26 August 2004 | Adorable
In the Thick of It
In this one, two relatively uncharted nether parts of Chinese cinema duke it out for attention. The first, a sterile morgue. The second, Macau. Both concepts hardly ever contribute to HK filmography, yet it's definitely the latter stealing the show here since at least this reviewer cannot recall when the largely fogotten former colony last graced silver screens anywhere.
It's also a rarity in being a Class III product, not typical of today's struggling-for-crowds movie biz and directly attributable to viscerally shocking scenes depicting the ins and outs of said post mortem facility, a dire place where medical examiners oversee dutiful "Fu Bo's", or assistant forensics specialists.
A Fu Bo's unique character calls for not only fortified appetites in the face of cadaverous adversity, but above all else the uncanny ability to remain disjointed from outside society. We get brief glimpses into their work load and mental calculations, seen mostly from the perspective of a new comer edging his way inside and ultimately not up to the task. Viewers must be warned Fu Bo the movie includes several scenes of supremely horrific Revelation, depicting in great detail ersatz, traumatized victims and the morbid autopsies that must assuredly follow.
This independent, somewhat controversial project tries to explain life's endless circle. For while the Fu Bo's loyally clean up humanity's messes, reprobate triad killers and corrupt police officials go about their dastardly affairs, supplying the morgue with a constant stream of body bags. But every dog has its day, and a nearby prison where the above mentioned often find themselves encarcerated proceeds to deliver prompt executions, further burdening the Fu Bo's already murderous schedule. Of all three plot elements, the death row sequences stand out most. They leave numerous titilating questions unanswered, featuring celebrity guests Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang, as well as a talented newcomer portraying a resident cook and priest caring for his doomed congregation.
Filmed purposefully in grainy video, this particular motion picture doesn't steadfastedly fulfill its astute promise all the time, failing to capitalize on the proposed insight into the lives and times of its own protagonists. However, as an exercise in philosophy Fu Bo does satisfy, winning added respect for avoiding crass sensationalism despite truly vulgar visuals.
Rating: * * * 1/2