Movie review: -197°C Murder
The story: Two socialites are found murdered and their deaths bear alarming similarity: All of their insides are frozen and their corpses are dressed in impeccable cosplay outfits. When another socialite, Jeana (Vivian Hsu), appears to be the new target, detective inspector Wayne (Simon Yam) and his team step up their efforts to nab the serial killer.
Not counting her cameo in comedy- drama Machi Action, Taiwanese hottie Vivian Hsu has major roles in at least two other films this year, neither of which shows her in a good light.
Last month, the star, who is a lot more successful as a Mandopop singer, played a rock star in Rhythm Of The Rain, the directorial debut of acclaimed lyricist Vincent Fang. Though she looks considerably younger than her 38 years, she did not have the youthful innocence required to play a high-school girl in many of the flashback scenes.
Paired with the boyish Alan Ko, 32, she often looked like his evil stepmother, instead of a classmate and love interest.
In her new movie -197°C Murder, she is a rich widow who finds herself the latest target of a serial killer who enjoys freezing his victims to death.
Maybe Hsu is trying to keep things cool and subtle, but her perpetually expressionless face is off-putting, especially in the most intense scenes when she is supposed to appear petrified.
Her weak acting is exacerbated in her scenes with veteran Hong Kong actor Simon Yam, who is in his element in yet another cop role - a real pity, given that the first half of the movie is not half bad.
Chinese director Wang Guangli (Karmic Mahjong, 2006) gets the pacing of the set-up and suspensefulness just right.
At the halfway mark, unfortunately, the film starts to spin out of control, turning into a wacky mess that feels more like an action-comedy than a creepy murder mystery. A supposedly climactic chase scene is so poorly shot, viewers will hardly care if the baddie is nabbed at all.
Of the many gimmicks in the movie - including a whole bunch of twists and turns in the second half - the most juvenile has to be that of using Hsu, an ex-softcore star, in a number of sexy scenes to satiate a lusty male audience.
In that area at least, she finally delivers, donning a schoolgirl cosplay outfit in one scene and then appearing in black lingerie in another.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.