Combustible Celluloid
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With: Race Wong, Rosanne Wong, Anson Leung
Written by: Oxide Pang
Directed by: Oxide Pang
MPAA Rating: R for strong violent content and some nudity
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 98
Date: 03/18/2013

Ab-Normal Beauty (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Photo Finish

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oxide Pang (Bangkok Dangerous, The Eye) directs this gory thriller about a beautiful art student who becomes obsessed with photographing death. Ab-Normal Beauty unleashes some absolutely stunning moments; in one scene, Jiney (Race Wong) regards her painting of a girl in art class and traces a droplet of red along the girl's body. In a more horrifying sequence, she pays a street vendor to kill chickens for her camera. Jiney finally begins to flip out after looking at too many gory prints in her red-tinged darkroom. Disappointingly, just when Jiney's obsession starts to get interesting, director Pang switches tracks and brings in a "mysterious videotape" subplot that only barely ties in with what came before. It's an unsatisfying payoff for such a promising, dazzlingly executed start. Yet until the mystery is uncovered, Pang keeps the razor tension at a satisfying peak. Rosanne Wong co-stars as Jas, Jiney's best friend and, the film hints, possible lesbian lover. (In real-life the Wongs are sisters and singers in a pop group.) Anson Leung also stars as Anson, a smitten student from Jiney's class who follows her around with a video camera before Jiney decides to photograph him covered in red paint.

DVD Details: Tartan Video's new DVD comes with a making-of featurette and trailers for other titles in their Asia Extreme series.

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