Victim (1999)

Directed by
A welcome return to the fold
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-01-08

A computer engineer (Lau Ching-Wan) is kidnapped and dumped in a room in a supposedly haunted hotel. When the police go to collect him, a number of spooky events occur. After this event, Lau begins to act strangely... is it just trauma, or something more sinister?

Ringo Lam has always seemed like an outsider in the Hong Kong movie industry, prowling around the edges of the trends and styles of the day, always producing something that is at least a bit different - and usually quite a bit darker. Like many others, he jumped ship as 1997 approached and tried his hand at Hollywood... and like many others, he ended up directing Jean Claude Van-Damme in sub-B action films.

VICTIM marked his return to Hong Kong, and seemed like reason to celebrate. It is a dark, tight and well-realised film that suggested a director who had reached a new level of maturity and professionalism - perhaps trying to excise the memory of his trip to the States. Unfortunately, it did not turn out to be a sign of great things to come - Lam has only directed one HK film since, and ended up back in Hollywood directing Jean Claude Van-Damme in increasingly unwatched direct-to-video fare. Wherefore, Ringo?

I would guess that VICTIM did not perform well at the box office - Hong Kong audiences are a fickle bunch, and not terribly well disposed to dark, noirish films that exercise the intellect. I do not wish to imply that this makes them unique or even unusual!

VICTIM was well received amongst the fan community (at least the English-speaking one) as a fresh and original film that mixed and played with genres and had genuine suspense. Lau Ching-Wan received yet more plaudits for his acting, and Ringo Lam for his direction. Sadly, that apparently wasn't enough for us to get further treats along these lines.