Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pangs take on twins mystique

Based in Thailand, but actually from Hong Kong, Danny and Oxide Pang are twin brothers who have made a string of artful action films, such as Bangkok Dangerous and Bangkok for Sale, and popular horror (The Eye, The Eye 2).

But it's about time they tackled the subject of twin brothers. Their latest film, Leave Me Alone, has opened in Hong Kong. It stars Ekin Cheng in a dual role as twin brothers who switch roles and find they can't switch back again. Part of it was filmed in Thailand, other parts in HK.

BC Magazine has more.

It was about time the Pang brothers made a movie about twins. Leave Me Alone takes the pretext of homovisual quid pro quo with a dash of gangster action plus a pinch of homosexual parody.

Director Danny says, "It's not a true story, but the concept comes from real life experience. When we were young, Oxide and I always used to swap identities - just for fun, especially for chasing girls - but we never got into any big trouble. Then one day I wondered what would happen if an accident happened after we swapped, and we couldn't switch back again. It's still quite possible today. Everything in the film is perfectly logical."

The gimmick is there from the start, but Ekin Cheng does a pretty convincing job of switching between the twin brothers Kit (straight, confident, efficient, Thailand-based) and Man (gay, sensitive, artistic, Hong Kong-based). So far so stereotyped, but the film doesn't take itself seriously enough to dwell on the details of the politically correct.

"It's a black comedy, without the overacting," confirms Danny. "I didn't just want to rely on dialogue to make the audience laugh. Everything occurs in strange situations - some are serious, some are dangerous, but when seen from another point of view, they're quite funny. I always wanted the actors themselves to be serious. I directed Ekin from my personal experience of a twin brothers relationship - how they talk to each other, how they are around each other, what they talk about, how close they are. But obviously we're not gay, it's just a movie!"

Avoiding the path of slapstick sitcom, the film diverges into parallel relationships with the other brother's significant other: Man's boyfriend Chung (Jan Lamb) nurses Kit back to health with sentimentally devoted affection in the hospital, while Kit's girlfriend Chun (Charlene Choi) drags Man into her troubles as she learns to fend for herself in dangerous Bangkok.

Faced with a playful montage of attractive images, dramatic angles and touchy situations, it's best to sit back and enjoy the glamourising slow-mo shoot 'em up action, especially with charming Charlene calling the shots in the land of smiles, like a true Hong Kong movie made in Thailand.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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