Year of release: 2002
David Morse (left) and Tony Leung Ka-Fai. Image courtesy of Columbia.
Every once in a while, a quality film slips under many people's radars. Double Vision definitely qualifies as one of the more under-rated movies to come out over the last couple of years, buried beneath a pile of over-hyped trash like Matrix Reloaded. This Taiwanese production is a tight little thriller that manages to capture some of the magic from Hong Kong film's "glory days", as well as displaying some of the spit-and-polish that comes from having a Hollywood studio back the proceedings. The end result is a great movie in the vein of Seven (with a bit of X-Files mixed in) executed with some more gusto.
Double Vision stars Tony Leung Ka-Fai as a burnt-out cop who lives at the police station shell-shocked after having to turn in his cousin on a corruption charge. After a series of mysterious murders, his superiors reluctantly team Leung up with a FBI agent (David Morse). The duo turn up a mysterious conspiracy led by rogue Taoist priests which leads them both down a dark path.
Some of the saucier bits in the movie. Image courtesy of Columbia.
Unlike a lot of movies dealing with mysticism, Double Vision keeps its' focus pretty clear throughout the running time. There are a few twists and turns, but the matters never seem convoluted or forced, which is refreshing at this point in time, where far too many movies try to out-do movies like The Sixth Sense and plop on "big twists" during the film just for the sake of doing so. Things are helped along immensely by the performances of the two leads. Both David Morse and Tony Leung Ka-Fai are two of the better actors out there (the fact that Morse is stuck doing CBS dreck like "Hack" is a travesty) and Double Vision is another example where they put in solid work. They help flesh out the themes in the movie without going overboard, and a smart script (which thankfully doesn't fall into the "foreigner" cliches of movies like Rush Hour) provides them a solid foundation to work with.
Oh, and the gore. I've been waiting for so long for a new picture to deliver the goods in this department, and Double Vision does that. Some of the effects look a bit cheesy (too much CGI and not enough Karo syrup), but I'll take this kind of stuff over the PG-13 crap now pumped out by movie studios all over the world and considered "scary" by far too many people. Even the simple effects of a double pupil work very well, and some scenes literally have shredded limbs flying about -- all to great effect. When you combine the visceral thrill of the blood and guts along with a good story and acting, Double Vision is one of the best films this reviewer has seen in quite a while and well worth seeking out.
Tony Leung Ka-Fai. Image courtesy of Columbia.