Rigor Mortis Blu-ray Review
Directed by Juno Mak
Written by Lai-yin Leung and Philip Yung
2014, Region A, 105 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on June 6th, 2014
Anthony Chan as Yau
Siu-Ho Chin as Siu-Ho Chin
Kara Hui as Feng Yeung
Rigor Mortis is a bit of a head-scratcher. Equal parts martial arts/action, horror, existential explorations of life and death and WTF?, it both entertains and perplexes. It is a beautifully shot and choreographed movie with some distinct and honestly unsettling images, but a plot that is at best confusing and at worst convoluted and nonsensical. Its central conceit is a housing tenement whose inhabitants are not what they appear, and the former actor who comes to live there after having lost his family. It's a mixture of the living, the dead, the undead, and the rest of the kitchen sink thrown into a less than savory soup.
Where Rigor Mortis is most successful is as a straight horror movie. The images and motifs used in that section are the kind that stick with you after viewing. Unfortunately, that brilliance is watered down in what I assume to be an existential look at purgatory, redemption and mortal sins. At least I think that's what a lot of the movie was about.
And that's the biggest issue I have with this movie. Even after watching it twice, I just don't know what its intentions and themes really are. I have my guesses and theories, but that's all I have. There's no magic key to unlock the mysteries. It just kind of happens and then it's done happening. If there is an underlying existential bent to it (as I think was intended), it lacks that anchor to help you unlock its meaning. The best movies in that genre always have it, and it sometimes may be hard to find in the first viewing, but in Rigor Mortis, it either doesn't exist or it's so well hidden the makers should be honorary Illuminati members at this point.
That's not to say the movie isn't worth your watch. Just don't struggle to find a deeper meaning and enjoy the well-done action sequences and darker imagery that are there to hold it together. It could have been a mind-blowing spectacular, but not playing to its strengths costs the movie a few major points and lower the overall enjoyment. See it for the fireworks, it sure is pretty to look at. The look and design of the film is probably the best part. The set-pieces and costuming practically eclipse anything else on screen. I just wish as much attention and care was put into the greater meaning. If they had done that, this would be a much bigger recommend. I had been looking forward to this movie since the first trailer came out last year and am sad it didn't live up that promise.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 16:9 Widescreen, the picture is sharp and colorful. There's a lot of dark to the movie that is well lit and doesn't become muddy and lost.
The audio is a full stereo/5.1 HD Surround Sound with both original Cantonese and an available English dub. The mix is solid and the music doesn't overwhelm the dialog.
No special features other than the original trailer and previews of other Well Go USA titles.
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