Thursday, May 01, 2014

That Demon Within

Year: 2014
Director: Dante Lam
Cast: Daniel Wu, Nick Cheung, Christie Chen, Andy On, Liu Kai Chi

Plot: After a cop inadvertently saves a robber's life by donating his blood to him, he is determined to nab him and his gang. But he struggles with his own inner turmoil caused by a past traumatic event, threatening his sanity.

Review: After hearing good things about this film, I decided to give it a try.

That Demon Within focuses on Dave, a cop who is so emotionally troubled, one can tell just by looking at him. One day, wanted robber Hon, injured from a car crash, walks into the hospital. With his blood type supply low, Dave, who is stationed there, donates his blood to save him, much to the chagrin of the investigating officer, who has lost several men because of him. Dave intends to make up for that mistake, but he suffers from emotional trauma in his past, and Hon seems connected to it somehow. 

As director, Dante Lam has managed to make his film both gritty and artistic, by showcasing blood and violence accompanied by great camerawork and use of colors. The film is essentially a study on Dave's state of mind and daily life, and Lam uses the above tools very well to present his lead character's inner demons and how it affects his choices and actions on the outside. Even something as basic as watching water go down a sink drain looks cool in Lam's hands.

But Lam's film wouldn't work without Daniel Wu's solid performance as Dave. Even from the first introduction of the character, Wu nails the part. He looks lean and slightly off in his head, which is perfect. Wu also hits all the right notes in depicting Dave's emotions, fears and anger. You fear him but pity him as well. Nick Cheung is also great as Hon, using a memorable evil smile to intimidate the audience while being ruthless in dealing with anyone in his way. 

However, the film suffers a little from editing problems. Lam stretches some scenes causing them to drag, while quick cutting other scenes that would have benefited from being shown in its entirety. The CGI used for scenes involving fire, especially in the climax, looked dodgy, but that's no surprise. The ending is also a bit weak and too long.

Overall That Demon Within is a solid psychological thriller which would have been better with a few tweaks here and there. Thanks to Daniel Wu, the film is worth checking out. (3.5/5)

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