Voodoo [Movie review by Jori]

Voodooaka Gong Tau
97 min., 2007
Directed by Herman Yau
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
My rating:  **

What it lacks in substance, it makes up for with gigantic balls.

* * *

Golden Harvest Films has mainly been known for putting out Kung-Fu movies – most notably Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee’s films.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to be in for and was half expecting some sort of Kung-Fu horror hybrid.  It isn’t, and now that I think about it we definitely need more of those!

Officer Rockman Cheung (Mark Cheng) is having a hell of a time.  He is hot on the trail of a fugitive when he has to deal with his infant son’s mysteriously gruesome death.  Then there’s the tiny problem of his wife who has been afflicted with Gong Tau.  Chinese black magic much like Voodoo.  The race is on to capture Lam Chiu (Tak-Bun Wong) and figure out a way to remove Karpi’s (Maggie Shiu) Gong Tau.

One word:  Sloppy.  For every scene that works incredibly well, we have to sit through some atrocious things.  The constant quick-edit strobe light effect deal does not serve to frighten, it gives one a headache and a mild thought of epileptic seizures.  The mixture of practical effects (outstanding!) are marred by ridiculous and pointless CG inserts.  A story line that is all at once interesting yet drags on for what seems like an eternity.

Yet with all those complaints, what ruins it for me is Maggie Shiu’s Karpi.  Her acting style is almost unbearable.  This is a woman who has lost her infant son, suffering from voodoo inflicted pain and has an inattentive husband.  That should be one of the most sympathetic characters you’ll meet!  Except her constant screeching grinds on the nerves to the point where really I would prefer to jump into the TV and kill her my damn self.  If I were married to her I don’t know how I could possibly stand her long enough to have a child, much less stay married to her.  I’m not sure how much of that has to do with the fact that Cantonese is one of the most hideous sounding languages I’ve ever heard.  There is something distinctly unattractive and borderline painful about the cadence of their language.  I don’t say that lightly, as I normally enjoy hearing different languages.  (Hey, some people like dubstep, I like foreign languages!)

What kept my interest was the random spots of amazingly ballsy gore.  They don’t just kill an infant – you get to see it happen!  Some of the scenes are pretty powerful, particularly when there is a choice to be made regarding mutilating a friend’s corpse.  Even the absurd idea of Flying Head Gong Tau gets some laughs.  No really – there is a head flying around with the spinal cord attached, adorned with choice entrails.  Each time I was ready to give up on this film, something happened to to pull me right back in.

It’s hard to really recommend this as a straight film.  While there are some really great spots, the story leaves a lot to be desired.  The cinematography swings from forgettable to nearly unwatchable.  But when they get it right, oh boy is it spectacular!  Gorehounds will definitely have some special moments worth seeing.  If all else fails, the lovely Zi-Xuan Teng has a few full frontal nude scenes.  Even I have to admit that those breasts are absolutely glorious!

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About Jori

Being a stubborn girl, Jori insisted on watching scary movies as a little girl and proclaiming "I'm not scared!" from behind her oma's rocking chair. Much sleep was lost in the early years due to paralyzing fear, and her uncle Albert deserves a special mention for unwittingly showing her Monkey Shines. Jori spends her adult life trying to recapture that initial feeling of terror that she experienced as a child. Follow her on Twitter at @fvjori.
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