Review: THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT 頭七 (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT 頭七 (2009)

Review: THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT 頭七 (2009)

A taxi driver who goes by the nickname of "Map King" (Lam Ka-Tung) because of his incredible knowledge to get wherever destination imaginable, is called upon to guide a cargo truck driver named Pony (Julian Cheung) to the mysterious Moon and Sun Village -- a place that only he knows how to get to. At first, he refuses to do so but after being promised an unimaginably sizable fee, it's simply an offer he can't ignore. And so their long journey through the night begins as they tail against each other on the road. They set off their CB radio so they can talk to each other. After a few brief conversations, it soon becomes clear that Pony's intention to go to that particular remote village is more than just a so-called "delivery" trip. Then Map King starts telling a ghost story that set in the Moon and Sun Village's distant past, the kind of bad memory which made him reluctant to go there at the first place. According to him, a widow named Fong (Michelle Ye), her chubby young son, and a group of armed bandit compromising of Boss (Fung Hark-On), Keung (Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai), Chicken (Tony Ho) and Bo (Xiao Hei) -- who turn up at her inn seeking refuge after a bloody robbery. Unfortunately for them, they've shown up at the wrong moment following from the "First 7th Night" after the passing of Fong's husband. That particular superstitious belief stated that the deceased will return during the fateful evening to settle affairs with their loved ones. Such creepy event nevertheless makes the bandits nervous and among the most freaked out of all is Keung, especially after he went sexually harassing against Fong. Because of his indiscretion, the four bandits ultimately meet their dooms. Despite the truth, Pony refuses to believe Map King's story and insists it's rather exaggerated. So he goes on to tell his so-called true version of the story to Map King.

REVIEW: At the first glance, THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT looks quite obvious the kind of horror cheapie director Herman Yau used to make. But before you ignore this as just another bargain-basement flick, THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT is something of a little surprise that is certainly worth an overlook. That said, Herman Yau's low-budget cheapie is an intriguing genre-bender which smoothly blends character-driven drama and gritty crime undertones in the vein of Ringo Lam-style with a supernatural twist. Rarely has a movie, at least for a cheapie like this, manages to distinguish a different set of tones with confident pace.

Writer-director Herman Yau certainly has an uncanny touch to mix its genres effectively with two flashbacks brilliantly replayed the movie's multiple twists in remarkably interesting fashion without being repetitive. Instead, it's also fascinating enough to see two different flashbacks (one from Map King's story, another one from Pony's) that the actors are playing the same characters with playful tonal change. No doubt the premise is intriguing to watch for, while Yau's trademark of gritty undertones of sex and violence are fairly welcomed here.

The cast, in the meantime, is top-notch with both Lam Ka-Tung and Julian Cheung playing their roles with distinctive touch we simply root for them. The rest of the supporting turns are equally credible, but it was TVB actress Michelle Ye gives her most juicy role yet. Here, she gives a chameleon-like performance, alternating from sympathetic to femme fatale role with relative ease. Rounding up is the downbeat ending that comes with an interesting twist.

Herman Yau's low-budget  cheapie THE FIRST 7TH NIGHT is an intriguing genre-bender that blends gritty crime drama with a supernatural twist.

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