Tuesday, August 9, 2011

THE LOAN SHARK 《大耳窿》Malaysian Film Review. An AMBIGUOUS dose of ART versus ACTION.

THE LOAN SHARK《大耳窿》Press Preview

Unconventional film directors who brave the media storm to dare defy the norm always intrigue me.

Simply because they are creatively different.

They feel, then they do.  Action speaks louder than words. They don’t just talk.

Hence my curiosity in Malaysian Director CL HOR’s body of work.

His films are more often than not, devil-may-care, they tread precariously on the Art House genre.

You can gather that he has little to offer on the commercial side, for the masses. His is a niche market that supports art films.

The general audience may find his works a tad tiresome to appreciate, much less to absorb.

His first foray was the contemporary THIRD GENERATION, hailed as Malaysia’s first Cantonese art film that showed raw touches of Wong Kar Wai.

Reviews were scattered, mostly lukewarm.

His second KINTA 1881 was positioned as Malaysia’s first Chinese Martial Arts film.

This one received scathing reviews on the plotline and the way the (bloody) actions were rendered during post production, but this film director has guts.

Constructive or destructive criticism, he spurs on with his third Chinese feature, this time a gangster film unveiling the brutalities of the traids, aptly called THE LOAN SHARK.

Here, he infuses art into the action sequences, such as the “choreographed”  shattering of glasses as the splinters “dance” before you in style. And the use of grid lines to “cross over” from one scene to another.

An eye-popping experience, but that depends whether you are enthralled by this methodology.

Watch out.  Never say die. Go on. This is a lesson we learn from this arty man.

You criticize and condemn. Let it be. Very soon I’ll be on my way to do my fourth. That’s typically CL HOR.

THE LOAN SHARK stars SAM LEE and JOJO GOH as an unlikely pair of siblings.  The brother is a relentless debt collector by profession whilst the sister is a police undercover.  Both are caught in a web of intrigue involving the illegal money lending activities in Malaysia headed by an infamous triad group.

All the leads in this movie: SAM LEE, LAM SUET, EDDIE CHEUNG, IRENE WAN and ROSANNE LEE with the exception of JOJO GOH are secondary actors from Hong Kong. Aptly put, this is their show, without which the movie will be out on a limb.

The package comes with a predictable story laced with plot holes and inconsistencies in the character development.

There are limited locations, most of these taking place in a karaoke lounge, car park, apartment interior, roof top and a mock-up sitting room with comfy chairs where the big boss and his henchmen sit and smoke, nineteen to the dozen, as if there isn’t going to be any tomorrow.

One wonders that, with so many impressive smoking scenes, are they promoting tobacco advertising?

You either dig the film director’s style and like this movie. Or it may not be your cup of tea. There’s no two ways about it.

Only you can make this decision.


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