BATTLE OF MEMORIES (2017) review

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Set in the near future and in a fictional country called T Nation (the ‘T’ probably stands for Thailand, where the film was shot), Leste Chen’s Battle of Memories imagines that a technology has been developed that allows people to have select memories removed from their brain (à la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and stored safely in places called Master of Memory Centers. Successful novelist Jiang Feng (Huang Bo) goes to the only center in Asia that can perform this procedure: he is divorcing his wife Zhang Daichen (Xu Jinglei) and wants to get rid of the memories of how they fell in love. But when his wife tells him she won’t sign the divorce papers unless he has these memories restored, he goes back to have the procedure reversed (he will then only have 72 hours to have them deleted again, this time inevitably forever). But Jiang Feng quickly realizes the memories that have been restored in his brain, are someone else’s. Someone who seems to have killed two women, both of whom he seemed to love dearly. Haunted by these foreign memories, Jiang discerns that they are connected to a recent murder case, and he shares his uncommon and still muddled knowledge of the killer’s psyche with the police detective on the case, Shen Hanqiang (Duan Yihong). But if he has the killer’s memories, then does the killer have his?

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ONE NIGHT ONLY (2016) review

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The directorial debut of Taiwanese actor Matt Wu (seen in Reign of Assassins and Sweet Alibis, among others), One Night Only stars Aaron Kwok as Gao Ye, a hopelessly compulsive gambler in heavy debt with ruthless loan sharks who are threatening to dismember him if he doesn’t pay up. Just after being submitted to a violent shakedown with an assorted ultimatum, he’s visited in his dingy hotel room by Momo (Yang Zishan), a prostitute he didn’t call for, but who insists on staying with him for forty minutes, lest her pimps think she’s not working hard enough. Having noticed Momo has a bundle of banknotes in her handbag, Gao Ye ensnares her into a gambling spree with the promise of profitable returns. Initially reluctant, she soon starts going along with it, and over the course of one long night, the two underdogs get into ever deeper trouble as they cross paths with an unhinged gambling rival (Andy On). They also grow closer to each other, slowly unraveling their most painful secrets.

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THE GREAT HYPNOTIST (2014) review

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Dr. Xu Ruining (Xu Zheng) is a highly-regarded practitioner of hypnotherapy, a science that yields surprisingly effective results but also a bit of controversy due to its blurry ethical boundaries : indeed, matters of free will are made a bit blurry when one enters the alternative state of hypnosis. This doesn’t stop Xu from being a supremely confident, resolutely arrogant master of his craft, and he is quick to take up the challenge when a colleague asks for his help in curing a seemingly untreatable patient : a woman (Karen Mok) who’s been abandoned by her parents and by her foster parents, and now claims to see dead people. She shows up at his office one evening, and a psychological game of cat and mouse ensues as it becomes apparent she’s not the only one to have secrets. Initially dismissive of any supernatural explanation, Dr. Xu soon has the tables turned on himself, as the woman claims that two ghosts are present in the room, and starts telling him things about himself he thought no one else knew.

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