Monday, October 05, 2009

Invitation Only (Jue Ming Pai Dui / 绝命派对)

For Some Eyes Only

Heralded as Taiwan's first slasher movie, you wonder what took it so long (really?). Director Kevin Ko knows the ingredients to make it work though, with copious amounts of thick, crimson blood and the numerous shots of hot female bods in slinky dresses grooving to the beat right from the start for that cursory first kill as an appetizer before the main course. Heck, I think the casting of Japanese AV star Maria Ozawa was a shrewd move as well, for what it's worth, at least to get her fan boys into the theatre for this.

The filmed worked like clockwork though, introducing us to a loser/slacker Wade (Bryant Chang), a chauffer who one day unwittingly chances upon his company CEO Yang (Jerry Huang) in a compromising position with Ozawa's fashion model in the backseat of the S500 Benz (which I tell you has plenty of room for that kind of shenanigan). In order to shut him up, Yang offers Wade the chance to live the high life through an all-sponsored invite to a high society event, which promises the fulfillment of one's fantasy, and the networking opportunities abound when rubbing shoulders with society's elite.

But of course there's no such thing as a free lunch, and soon Wade got more than he bargained for, after getting his wishes satisfied of course, with unbelievable winnings at the gambling table, a gift of a Ferrari, and the highlight? Bonking the much coveted fashion model which made Ozawa look real comfortable aside from her very contrived acting with clothes on.

Things of course are more than meets the eye, especially when this underground event gets situated in the same warehouse in the opening scene, and soon enough the newcomers to the party, Wade included, are unmasked for being the fakes they are, and the body count begins. It's a little peculiar as well that the story chose to show all quite early in the film, and settled instead for plenty of bloody gore with scenes crafted that will make you shrink in your seats, so much so that even an R21 rating here didn't get passed clean, with a jarring edit made to a facial treatment.

If there's anything close to this offered by the West, then Hostel would come close. But I have to admit that the story did offer something that's refreshingly bizarre with its preaching (or beliefs) of the characters on the the rich-poor divide, where torture becomes a gladiatorial sport to satisfy what's being perceived as injustice being done. It's hunter versus prey for the masses, until the prey begin to fight back when forced to a corner.

As with any slasher flick there are a number of plot loopholes that will make you chuckle, such as the extremely poor logistics the villains have set up, as well as very silly goons being employed. The execution of the premise and the performance of a number of not-so-beautiful cameos (read: high society aunties) were really bad, and I cannot help but to laugh out loud at the implausible, obligatory car-chase scene involving a Ferrari and a pick up, which did highlight the modest budget here because creative camera techniques were employed to simulate a minor wreck. Of the Ferrari that is.

Still, this film drew in the crowds and I was quite surprised that it was quite the date movie as well. To the jaded torture porn viewer, the film is like a walk in the park which delivers exactly what you'd come to expect, plus some unintentional comedy when things get played straight.

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