Urban tale of fantasies, genre greatly favoured by Hong-Kong cinematography, the latest movie of filmmaker Ann Hui combines elements of horror films with other comical aspects to offer an intriguing and terrifying work of great visual strength
VISIBLE SECRETS (2001)
Director: Ann Hui
Writer: Kwang Abe
Producer: John Chang
Cinematographer: Arthur Wong
Editor: Chi Li Kong
Original Music: Tommy Wai Kai – Leung
Cast: Eason Chan * i Shu * Anthony Wong
Here’s one I got from my Phillipino horror movie connection down in Quezon City. Thanks Nonoy! But it is not a Phillipino movie, no, it is a Hong Kong lensed picture dealing with ghosts. Yeah, your probably a little tired of Asian ghost movies, especially when one of the main characters sees dead people but I watched VISIBLE SECRET and it held my attention and though it deserved to be archived here on this site. To be honest it was the opening that grabbed my attention and it’s a good opener for any kind of movie. A man gets shoved in the way of a oncoming bus. He goes down and when he gets up he is missing his head! The body starts stumbling around as pedestrians run away screaming and the body actually walks away from the scene of the accident for a good distance before it slumps over a bicycle and bloods spurts out of the neck stump!
Then you see a little girl peering beneath the bus looking at the severed head as the camera zooms into the blackness of the dead mans eye! Really good opening scene and well executed. It must have been done with cgi but it looks very convincing so maybe it was achieved with practical effects but I can’t tell. And the guy that’s gets his noggin knocked off is played by Tony Wong, and if you know who he is then you are as deep into these HK movies as I am. I was intrigued by the start of this movie and even though I knew it was a ghost movie I was hoping it would have a few more gore scenes. But it doesn’t. But it is still a decent film and has a few things going for it.
One of those things is the actress Qi Shu, who plays June. This actress Qi Shu has been in a few genre movies but you probably know her best from THE TRANSPORTER. YES, her! The adorable cute as f*ck Asian gal that Jason Statham finds in the trunk of his car. In THE TRANSPORTER she looks very young, like a teenager, and even though she was only a year younger in VISIBLE SECRET she looks much older in VISIBLE SECRET. She is originally from Taiwan and I found out that she started out doing nude modeling and soft core sex films. Now those I’d like to see!
In VISIBLE SECRET she is the one that can see ghosts and only out of her left eye so she wears a eye patch, which scores points with me because we all know how sexy eye patches are! She wears black lipstick and dark eye makeup but I don’t think they tried to portray her as a Goth chick. She’s quirky and somewhat annoying and a little whacked in the head but who can say how you would act if you really saw dead people every day.
I’ve seen Qi Shu in a few movies now, she was in the EYE Part 2, but beyond being a hot Asian babe, she is somewhat likeable and doesn’t come off too bitchy. I like Maggie Cheung, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh, but as far as younger Asian starlets go Qi Shu is my favorite. Well, her and Asa Akira.
Another really good thing about this movie is that it was made under the skilled direction of film maker Ann Hui. Ann Who, Ann Hui, that’s who. No, I have never seen any of her other movies and I don’t think she has made that many genre pictures but she did a good job with VISIBLE SECRET and achieved an outstanding look for the film. She really did, just the way the film looks made me want to watch it and find out what happened. Very dark, almost too dark, with deep colors. Very fitting for any kind of horror movie and it looks like it could have been made in the 90’s or even the late 80’s. If you have seen the original Japanese version of PULSE, then that will give you an idea of what VISIBLE SECRET looks like. But still different from PULSE and I gotta go off on a different subject because the way this movie looks would totally fit a zombie or cannibal movie and makes me think of Bruno Mattei.
You gotta know who old Bruno is, he’s the Italian director who made HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: Night Of Terror, and ZOMBI 3, TERMINATOR 2, and ROBOWAR! Among so many other great/bad genre movies throughout the 80’s. Well, Bruno is no longer with us but before he died recently he made two more zombie films, ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD and ZOMBIES: The Beginning, two cannibal flicks, LAND OF DEATH and CANNIBAL WORLD and a supernatural horror movie called THE TOMB. They were shot on digital video cameras but if they would of had the look that VISIBLE SECRET has Bruno would have gone out on top and be held in as much high regard as Lucio Fulci is! Kinda sucks because VISIBLE SECRET looks great but is not all out horror and Bruno pumped out all these fun gory movies before he died but, and this is just me dreaming here, if somehow Ann Hui could’ve teamed up with ol’ Bruno to help him get the look she got for VISIBLE SECRET for those five movies……well, we all would be some happy horror hounds. But you should still check into those Bruno Mattei movies. Now back to VISIBLE SECRET!
So the look of this movie made the ghostly scary moments so much more effective than all these Hollywood Asian ghost story remakes, enough to where I can almost forgive VISIBLE SECRET for spending so much time building the relationship between June and her boyfriend, Peter. Almost forgot about Peter, the other main character in this movie. June meets Peter at a night club and they quickly become a couple. They eat alot and then take a trip to a island with a group of friends when one of their friends becomes possessed by a spirit and June and Peter help her. When they get back to the mainland June tells Peter to call her Siu Kam. From here on things take a turn for the supernatural and it turns out that the guy that got his cranium ripped off in the beginning of the movie has been possessing people associated with Peter and June because this spectral asshole thinks that Peter had something to do with his death.
If you want to see VISIBLE SECRET it’s best that I not give anymore away. Lastly I just wanna say how I like how Ann Hui kept alot of the effects simple and old school and I am sure that cgi must have been used I really couldn’t tell where except when it was really obvious. It may not be STORY OF RICKY, THE ROAD, MACHETE, or even RINGU, but it was a okay little diversion and if you can’t get enough Asian ghost movies put VISIBLE SECRET on your list.
Visible Secret (2001)