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January 1st, 2001 Issue #38

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Return To Dark
(2000; Universe Films Distribution Company / Matrix Productions Company / Times Production): 5/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Goi jing gwai che


Gai zheng gui xie

From Good To Evil

Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Eric Moo Kai-yin (left to right). Image courtesy Universe.

When security guard Brick (Ken Wong Hap-hei) learns how Officer Ko (Singapore actor Eric Moo Kai-yin) got into hot water with the Internal Affairs department, he makes a point of befriending the troubled man. An honest cop, Ko has been suspended over a skirmish with his partner (who was trying to make off with some impounded triad money and died when Ko accidentally pushed him into the path of an oncoming van) and his prospects of evading jail time look bad.

Ken Wong and Michael Tse Tin-wah. Image courtesy Universe.

After having offended a gang boss, Brick is in need of quick cash, so he enlists a delivery man (Michael Tse Tin-wah) and a dimwitted toy salesman (Anthony Wong Chau-sang) in a plan to rob the hideout of local bookie, Mad Dog (James Ha Chim-see, who also served as the film's action director). Needing a gun for protection, Brick also brings in Ko (sporting an illegal piece that he intends to kill himself with). The group pulls the job, making off with a cool $7 million, and head their separate ways after dividing the spoils. Naturally, these amateurs are about to get more than they bargained for, as vicious killers OK and Mucho (Joey Meng Yee-man and Blackie Ko Shou-liang respectively, both sporting blonde wigs) are soon on their trail.

James Ha Chim-see. Image courtesy Universe.

Director Tony Leung Hung-wah (QUEENIE & KING THE LOVERS) and cinematographer Yip Wai-ying really overdo it with the visual design (this movie isn't in color, it's in black and blue) but RETURN TO DARK is a passable, albeit thoroughly minor, caper thriller. The storyline is old hat and Anthony Wong's eccentric (and seemingly insane) character is tiresome but there are a couple of worthwhile twists in the final act and it is fun to see Meng (best known in the West for THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR 2 and enjoying notoriety in HK for her role in ATV's MY DATE WITH A VAMPIRE) in a very atypical role.

Joey Meng Yee-man. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5485
Dolby Digital Mono (2.0)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.78:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for mid-range violence and brief non-explicit sexual violence)
80 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

There are no problems with the video transfer and the source material is in opening day condition. The Cantonese version sounds good but the Mandarin track is a bit on the flat side (both are post-synched). The film's trailer (which makes it look like Ko and Meng are the stars), a trailer for THE STORY OF PROSTITUTES, and Star Files on Joey Meng and Anthony Wong round out the disc's offerings. An incorrect running time of 84 minutes is listed on the keep case.

Michael Tse and Anthony Wong. Image courtesy Universe.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review