The Eye 1 + 2
By: J.R. McNamara on August 26, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Eastern Eye (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). Cantonese DD 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1. English Subtitles. 185 minutes
The Movie
Director: Oxide Pang, Danny Pang
Starring: Angelica Lee, Lawrence Chou, Chutcha Rujinanon, Yut Lai So/Shu Qi, Eugenia Yuan, Jesdaporn Pholdee
Screenplay: Jojo Hui, Pang Brothers/Jo Jo Hui, Lawrence Cheng
Country: Hong Kong
Year: 2002/2004
AKA: Gin Gwai/Gin gwai 2
The premise for The Eye came from a true life story that the Pang brothers read in newspapers about a woman who had an operation on her eyes to restore her sight, and another that closely reflects the ending of the film, which I won't go into as it will spoil the close. This film is titled Gin Gwai in its original language, whose literal translation to English means 'Seeing Ghosts', and is fairly highly regarded by Asian horror fans, although I believe this may mainly be due to the fact that it is the first Asian horror film in ages to not have a black haired wet ghost child as either protagonist or antagonist!!

The Eye tells the story of Mun (Lee Sin-Je) who has a corneal transplant to restore her sight, lost to her for 18 years. Unfortunately, the operation has an unusual side effect: she can now see not only ghosts, but the Black Wu Chang, who is the Daoist entity that takes the ghosts to the afterlife, and can be a portent for incoming disaster. Obviously, the visions are freaking Mun out, and she tells her doctor, Doctor Wah (Lawrence Chou), all about them. The pair decide to attempt to discover what is causing these visions, and investigate the death of the donor…only to find she had some awful secrets of her own. Can Mun accept her gift and lead a normal life, or will the constant invasion on her life by the spirit world cause self destruction? Hopefully she won't end up with a boring TV show starring one of the Arquettes or Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Some moments in The Eye are quite thought-provoking, such as a blind person with restored sight not recognizing things by sight, but only by touch, and not recognizing themselves in the mirror which are two concepts I found to be both fascinating and realistic. The Pang Brothers have also provided some remarkable imagery, including an old man ghost with a caved in head, and a burning ghost, and the ending blow out is phenomenal. It is just a shame that most of the rest of the film is fairly pedestrian and plodding, and some sequences, like the CGI 'car ignition' sequence, are completely out of place.

The Eye 2 has little to do with the first movie, beside the fact that it is called The Eye 2, and is about clairvoyance. In fact, there is NO reason to call this film 'The Eye' at all!... except for a slightly deceitful marketing plan. The Gin Gwai title makes much more sense, as this film has nothing to do with eyes, but plenty to do with 'seeing ghosts'.

The Eye 2 tells the story of Joey (Shu Qi) who, after a failed suicide attempt, ends up with an extra sense she doesn't understand. In a deep depression after breaking up with her boyfriend, Sam (Tik Jesadaporn Pholdee), she decides to attempt to move on with her life, only to discover she is pregnant with his child. As the visions of the dead haunt her, she finds she regularly sees the spirit of one woman in particular, a woman who's ominous presence becomes like a portent to tragedy. Driven to almost madness by the visions, she happens upon a photo of the spirit, and decides to research her life to find answers….answers she may find are more damaging than helpful.

The Eye 2 certainly has a more attractive cast than the first film (Shu Qi is gorgeous), but again the story is slow and methodical in its approach. No doubt the cast are all competent and it is well filmed, but it's a long journey for a disappointing destination. Again, some nice set pieces as the Pang Brothers like to paint each scene like a picture, but this is also put off balance by some average special effects (the person jumping off the building would have been horrific, if the body didn't suffer from the hyper-real gravity that CGI sometimes has).

The Eye films have been incredibly popular and have, of course, spawned two remakes: the first, The Eye, starring Jessica Alba and the second, re-titled In-Utero (coming soon). To be perfectly honest, I appreciate that the concepts behind these films are unique and interesting, but I didn't find them as engaging as there reputations may have you believe. The acting is competent and they are nicely directed, but at the end of the day, they are ghost stories with an interesting twist: especially the concept of ghosts being everywhere all the time. Still, these films are worth seeing once, but I don't believe they are ones you would watch again and again, like for instance, Ringu.

Both these films are available either singularly, or in a fairly reasonable priced boxed set from Madman/ Eastern Eye.
Both films are presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and are clean and clear transfers.
Both these films really excel in their soundtracks. They are presented in Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 and the subtleties of the sound effects and score really shine. Both are delicate, slow films, and the sound reflects that perfectly.
Extra Features
The extras on these discs are fairly un-spectacular.

The Eye has the following:

There are two documentaries: one called The Making of The Eye, and the other The Pang Brothers Documentary. The reason I lump them together like this is because they seem to be a collection of interviews with the cast, producers and directors that were separated as an afterthought, rather than kept together as a single entity, which would have been a better option. The first tells mainly of the making and origins of the film, whereas the second seemed to be an ego-stroke for the Pangs.

There are five trailers for this film on the disc: 2 teaser trailers, 1 international, 1 U.S. theatrical trailer and one U.S. TV spot.

There are also trailers for other films from the Madman/ Eastern Eye collection, including The Grudge, Dark Water, Ong Bak, Paranoia Agent, Parasite Dolls and Texhnolyze, and an Eastern Eye show reel.

The Eye 2 has the following:

The Making of the Eye 2 obviously is a documentary about the making of the film. This documentary features some behind the scenes footage, and interviews with the Pang brothers, and the amazingly beautiful Shu Qi as they recount various tales of the filming.

There are 2 trailers on this disc for The Eye 2: the teaser and the full theatrical trailer.

There are a series of stills. Dull and a waste of DVD space.

There are trailers for other Eastern Eye/ Madman flicks: The Eye, Godzilla VS Mothra, Ong Bak and The Grudge.
The Verdict
These are both pretty good films, but nowhere near essential additions for either a horror or Asian film fan's DVD collection, nor deserving of the huge positive reputations they have garnered. They do provide a few shivers, but they are nowhere frequent enough and rely far too much on the 'I see something in the mirror, turn.and it's GONE!!!' type scares.. These films are the absolute definition of style over substance. Worth a watch once, and that's about it.
Movie Score
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