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Double Vision

Dir: Kuo-fu Chen
2002
Double Vision transplants a Seven-like serial killer tale into Taiwan and a strange Daoist cult.
Victims believe themselves to be drowning or burning alive, and die appropriately. Could it be “pure evil” or some strange sort of science? Enter an American expert on serial killers (David Morse) and a workaholic cop (Tony Leung–the other one) who has been ostracized for exposing corruption. The buddy cop dynamics are out of an X-Files episode, as is the set-up, but Double Vision transcends its rather cliched beginnings and veers off into something dark and menacing. The truth here lies somewhere between science and religion, and both men are right in their own way while being wrong in more important ways (ie. those that would save lives).
I liked it more than I thought I would–a great pall of evil and corruption hung over the entire film, permeating even the police office where, supposedly, equilibrium can be found. There’s even a bloody massacre of cops’n’cultists in the third act that I never expected, but which have done Peckinpah proud. Morse, who is best known for being in nearly every Stephen King tele-movie, but who I know as the cop that Bjork kills in “Dancer in the Dark,” keeps his dignity throughout in a project that so desperately wants to compete with the West. But it succeeds on what makes it particularly Taiwanese: the Daoist angle, the audience’s knowledge of Daoist visions of hell, and a lack of Hollywood structure near the end. Even in its sillier moments, it takes itself seriously, and manages to be chilling.

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