Going Home DVD Review
Written by DamnationDoormat
DVD released by Panorama Entertainment Hong Kong
Directed by Peter Ho-Sun Chan
Story by Matt Chow & Jojo Hui
2002, Region 0 (NTSC), 61 minutes, Not rated
Criminal Investigation Department officer Chan (Eric Tsang) and his son Cheung (Li Ting-Fung) move into dilapidated, marked for demolition tenement after falling on hard times. In the opposite living complex reside Yu (Leon Lai) and his wife Hai'er (Eugenia Yuan), who is paralyzed from the waist down, and their quiet, yet mysterious young daughter. Almost immediately upon arrival Cheung begins to hear and see strange distant things and with his father trying to support him at work, must face them alone. Soon after investigating the building Cheung disappears. Chan returns home and begins frantically searching for his lost son. He confronts Yu who disavows any knowledge of his son and claims he doesn't even have a daughter. Not believing him Chan breaks in several days later, searches the apartment, and is knocked cold when discovered by Yu. Chan awakens bound to a chair, Hai'er revives in three days...
Originally stuck in the middle of the 2002 Asian horror triad, Three (San geng), Peter Chan's Going Home quickly assured itself as the clearly superior story of the lot. After receiving high critical acclaim and being nominated in 9 categories in the 2003 Hong Kong Film Awards, Panorama Entertainment issued a stand-alone edition featuring the extended director's cut.
Going Home is an outstanding and surprising example of simplistic storytelling and filmmaking. With it's relatively short running time, the film perfectly measures every one of it's crucial aspects. It balances intelligent observations about love, loss, societal norms, and they're importance to our live's everyday semblance and normalcy. It stresses the significance of memories and photographs as the only real connection to loved ones lost by time no matter what degree we desperately try to hold on. It's also one of the few films that use it's more, though sparse, 'Grand Guignol' conventions to give it's statements even more true emotional power or distress, depending on your perspective. The revelations are saved for the conclusion and are truly profound, amongst the most overwhelming I've personally witnessed when thought about in hindsight. That's another wonderful detail, the feature doesn't bog down in deliberate artistic movements. It can be enjoyed on a basic level but if the viewer is willing to dig a little deeper the story gives you the keys for a clear understanding of the subtext.
The acting on hand is superb. Eric Tsang as Cheung's father, Chan, gives the character an appealing universal 'everyman' atmosphere who, even in rough times, puts his son as the first priority. Leon Lai (whose performance garnered him a 2002 Taiwanese Golden Horse) portrays Yu has a logical, educated man whose mind is clouded trying by intense love and dedication, to defeat one of reality's blunt facts. Eugenia Yuan as Yu's wife, Hai'er, even though basically having a monologue is nonetheless uniformly excellent, she earned the Best New Artist honor at the 2003 Hong Kong Film Awards for this film. Peter Chan's direction is straightforward and gains all the more strength, it just wouldn't be the same with excessive abstract camera angles and needless flash. The film's low-key, green manifestation is accredited to cinematographer Christopher Doyle and Art Director Hai Chung Man, doing an outstanding job of capturing urban decay and realizing the film's essence of drab melancholy. The score, by Cho Sung-Woo & Peter Kam, is also worth noting due to using more traditional forms of musical styles like operatic orchestration, that weave delicate tendrils of compassion and apprehension into the imagery with masterful strokes.
Video and Audio:
Going Home is presented it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in a non-anamorphic transfer. It suffers from all the problems that present themselves with non-enhanced material. Grain, mild jagged hardlines, and some compression artifacting is noticeable at times. Overall, it doesn't distract from one's enjoyment and suits the film's downtrodden appearance.
Presented in it's original language, Cantonese, in DTS 5.1, Dolby 5.1, and 2.0 tracks. I watched the film in crystal clear DTS naturally, and when employed it becomes quite an enveloping experience. The English subtitles (Chinese also included) are a decent size and font, white with black rims, and have very few grammatical errors.
Limited to a English subbed Making-of running just over 15 minutes with interviews with it's principals and some behind the scenes footage and an unsubbed Director Commentary. The Making-of is informative but due to it's relatively short duration and also including minutes devoted to the other films included in the original Three, it leaves a bit to be desired. The packaging itself on the other hand is quite nice and a pleasing addition to your shelf. It looks like a bound book that's slightly larger than a standard DVD case with a flat finish, while the lettering remains shiny.
A masterpiece of applying standard Horror thematic to reap deep, touching sensibilities common to every person. A film you need to see.