In the first of a two-part film project, three short stories from acclaimed Hong Kong horror writer Lilian Lee are adapted for the big screen in this star-studded horror anthology. Results vary from the good to the tedious, however, with the various socio-political messages lost in tired genre trappings.
Lilian Lee is one of Hong Kong’s most successful authors, who has published hundreds of novels, many of which have been adapted for the big screen. Stanley Kwan’s Rouge, Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine and Tsui Hark’s Green Snake were all originally penned by Lee, and so the prospect of six diverse filmmakers adapting half a dozen of her short stories into an ambitious anthology project was understandably an enticing concept.
Tales From The Dark 1, released in Hong Kong this weekend, presents the first three of these adaptations (with Part 2 scheduled to arrive early next month), and boasts contributions from Fruit Chan, Lee Chi Ngai and the directorial debut of actor Simon Yam. The seasoned star of more than 150 films also takes the lead in Stolen Goods, which opens the anthology.
Yam plays Kwan, a curmudgeonly loner scraping together a meagre living in a “coffin apartment” no bigger than a jail cell. When he loses his job on a construction site, the obstinate Kwan refuses to go on welfare, despite owing back rent and having no relatives to turn to for help. In desperation Kwan heads to a cemetery and steals a selection of urns, intending to blackmail their relatives into paying a ransom for their return. However, Kwan soon discovers that tampering with human remains will wreak repercussions from the spirit world.
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