I really didn’t know what I was getting into before walking in on this one. I knew it involved a serial killer and had Tony Leung Ka Fai and David Morse in it. So pretty much I skipped along to my screening of Double Vision with expectations of Silence of the Lambs or Seven. After the second or third macabre ritualistic murder, it was really hard to not draw parallels with Seven. However, while that may very well provide the backbone to the film, there is so much more than makes this a really good movie to see.
But first, let’s get the obvious comparisons out of the way. Yes this film does have some disturbing scenes and particularly vicious and violent scenes which warrant it getting an R rating. But then this is a serial killer film. Personally I do believe not as disturbing as some of the stuff in Seven but my friend disagreed so be warned. Otherwise the plot does chug along with investigators finding clues and finally tracking down the bad man. A few other similar plot devices but I think I should probably shut up now.
Anyway, what distinguishes this from its Hollywood counterpart is, superficially, this one revolves around a Taoist paradigm. Now with a western audience, I’m not sure how common knowledge is about Taosim as compared to Dante’s Inferno (and the Seven deadly sins) but it really is unimportant. What gets explained in the movie is pretty much what you need to know.
What this movie deals with and is major theme running throughout the movie is the power of belief. Throughout the movie, Kevin Richter (David Morse), in his role as the outsider, is emphasised as much for being a loud American as the fact that he doesn’t respect the local traditions and beliefs. The film portrays modern Taiwan as somewhat of a paradox. It is a locale with modern sensibilities intermixed with strong cultural ties and important religious underpinnings.
And it is this conflict that is at the heart of the film. This is a city as modern as any other (though there is a comment about in the movie about how they don’t have the resources to properly analyse a piece of evidence), yet everyone hangs talismans of protection in their car and place wards against evil spirits in their home. As the movie progresses, an explanation for both a Taoist and scientific paradigm is offered in an X-Files manner though you do sense the latter is given lip service.
As for characters, Tony Leung is commendable as the tortured soul who isolates himself from family and fellow officers after a harrowing experience in his past. Very much the crime film role of a man with demons but is really good at his job. David Morse as I mentioned before is the outsider and an intriguing plot device. Rene Liu plays the devoted yet spurned wife who feels helpless before her husband’s self destruction and really has little more than that.
The movie is really worth seeing. It is tense and disturbing and I didn’t see the final confrontation coming at all. Of course I did miss a clue in the middle of the movie but it is very cool. The ending seemed a bit forced to tell you the truth but after the roller coaster ride we went through previously, I can forgive it.