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Dating Death


"Quick, we can still save our careers!"
Edwin Siu, Stephy Tang and Theresa Fu

Herman Yau Lai-To


Raymond Wong Bak-Ming

Cast: Stephy Tang Lai-Yun, Theresa Fu Wing, Edwin Siu Jing-Nam, Deep Ng Ho-Hong, Don Li Yat-Long, Ricky Fan Chun-Fung, Horace Lee Wai-Sing, Tats Lau Yi-Tat
The Skinny: Director Herman Yau hits rock bottom with Dating Death, a surefire contender for worst film of the year. The filmmakers go interactive by making the audience want to kill the characters themselves. If only that truly were possible.
by Kozo:

     A couple of Cookies lead the way to the Hong Kong Cinema hall of shame in director Herman Yau's Dating Death. Lily (Stephy Tang) and Sophie (Theresa Fu) are the only two girls in group of seven friends, who are all spending some downtime at Sophie's palatial island villa. The gang plays a game of Truth or Dare where they ask the all-important question, "Who do you like?" Well, four out of five dentists choose Sophie, which causes the ignored Lily to stick out her lower lip like it's the end of the world. But Sophie admits to liking fifth guy Ken (Don Li), who returns the declaration of affection when pressed. Bad idea. Ken actually has a relationship going with Lily and is too embarrassed to reject Sophie publicly. Lily gets upset, the other four guys start fuming like 2004 New York Yankees fans, and the next morning Ken is dead, having apparently been thrown out the window.
     Oddly, the murder of a friend by possibly one of their own doesn't deter these kids from hanging out. One year later, the group gets back together and all the remaining guys still love Sophie. Lily is still upset over being ignored, and thinks one of the guys—or possibly even Sophie herself—may have offed Ken. Sophie, being the most completely oblivious girl in the history of the world, thinks Ken died carrying a torch for her. Tension is high, and only increases when they all get
invitations supposedly sent by Ken to come back to the villa for a weekend of old acquaintances. They agree, and soon the six "friends" are back at the scene of the crime, along with the villa caretaker Uncle Liu (Tats Lau, who has never slummed lower than this film). Before you know it, people start freaking and sooner or later someone gets offed. Plus they're trapped on the island. Who didn't see that coming?
     When the first of the kids get killed, the immediate reaction could be this: about damn time! Dating Death contains possibly the most unlikable group of "attractive youngsters" in the history of Hong Kong Cinema, and those that haven't shut off the film by the half-hour mark will likely be yelling "YEAH!" every time someone meets a grisly fate. Aside from being petulant and annoying, this group of youngsters are questionably even friends. As soon as the guys harangue Ken after his ill-timed confession of love towards Sophie, any smart person would say, "What kind of friends are these? Screw these guys!" Ostensibly, the guys' adherence to this shoddy support group is because they all dig Sophie, which is totally and absolutely unbelievable. Lily is far more attractive than Sophie, though that's mainly because she doesn't appear to be a brain-dead pillow case with the personality of a dry twig. Lily also has Stephy Tang's cuddly-sweet features going for her, but Tang spends most of Dating Death emoting poorly. Theresa Fu is a total cipher, and of the guys, only Edwin Siu doesn't come off as a total waste.
     Still, a total waste is exactly what Dating Death is. Herman Yau has proven himself time and time again to be an effective director of low-budget genre exercises, but for some reason he completely drops the ball here. Instead of attention to character, or subtle moments mixed with shock horror cues, Dating Death is composed mainly of obvious "make 'em jump" filmmaking technique, and an overblown sense of tension that becomes laughable. As soon as the kids start running after each other and rolling down the stairs in a huge mass of limbs, a laugh is all but guaranteed, especially since there's supposed be be something dangerous going on. Add this to cheesy CGI involving the weather patterns and one character's "magic powers", and you have a front-runner for "Worst Hong Kong Film of 2004". It might be a little mean to attach such a title to a teenybopper slasher-wannabe like Dating Death, but this is one terrible motion picture that should never have been made. Herman Yau has certainly done better, and even these vapid and criminally annoying young actors deserve better. You deserve better watch something else. (Kozo 2004)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC (Marked as Region 3)
Panorama Entertainment
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS ES 6.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
"Making of" featurette, Trailer

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 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen