WEB OF DECEPTION (1989) short review

Deception+1989-2-b

Web of Deception looks appealing on the outside, a Tsui Hark production directed by talented cinematographer David Chung (of Royal Warriors), and starring an all-female cast (and good old Waise Lee) headed by the great Brigitte Lin. It’s a Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse thriller in which Lin plays Lin, a successful businesswoman who’s being pressured by an unseen blackmailer, who she suspects might be either her insecure assistant May (Pauline Wong) or her slightly fishy broker Chow (Elizabeth Lee). As Lin makes arrangements to pay the blackmail money, things are complicated by May’s roommate Queenie (Joey Wong), whose twin sister Cat (Joey Wong too) owes big money to the Triads, and who plans to steal the ransom money to pay up the debt. This leads to plenty of double-crosses and murder attempts, as events unfold almost exclusively in Lin’s big house. Unfortunately, Web of Deception is narratively too pedestrian to engage : outside of one or two moments of real tension and shock, the film focuses on the characters’ endlessly wobbly agendas, as they hesitate, give up or take action in incredibly half-assed ways. It all makes for a very tedious experience, with Chiu Man-Hoi’s cheap score ramming every point home with cheesy synth noodling. David Chung’s experience as a cinematographer means it’s a pretty film to look at (except in a baffling ‘day for night’ scene, where a blue filter is applied to make day look like night, but they forgot to avoid showing white clouds in the frame…), and Brigitte Lin is commanding as always alongside the underrated Pauline Wong, but Joey Wong doesn’t manage to make her two roles interesting or even different from each other, despite the supposedly very different personalities. **

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