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The Great Hypnotist 
   2014-05-08 17:59:43    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Lu Chang

The Great Hypnotist. [photo: baidu.com]

The Great Hypnotist is a 2014 Chinese mystery-thriller directed by Leste Chen and starring Xu Zheng and Karen Mok. It is likely to become the most popular thriller film seen in China in recent years.

Laimin has the review.

 

"The Great Hypnotist", or Cui Mian Da Shi, is a fascinating thriller produced by dedicated filmmakers. It would have been the perfect story if it wasn't deliberately simplified to meet the demands of lazy viewers. Sadly, this nice gesture has not been appreciated by film critics.

The story is essentially a battle of wits between a highly successful psychotherapist and his female patient. The girl claims to be disturbed by her ability to see ghosts, but the therapist, being a confident man of science, insists on uncovering the secrets behind the patient's state of mind. After an excruciating, late-night session, both the shrink and his client get over their respective issues and resolve some old issues from years ago.

In "The Great Hypnotist", director Chen Zhengdao revisits a familiar genre and proves that he hasn't lost his edge after making a shift to romantic comedy. Despite the widespread promotion that has made the plot slightly predictable, the director still manages to grip even the most guarded viewers with an intense opening. That intense feeling is continuously inspired and nurtured throughout the film until the last moment in the big reveal.

The thrilling effect is carefully built up thanks to the dedication of cameraman Charlie Lam and whoever designed and built the setting. The story mostly takes place in the unconscious minds of the leading characters, so the cinematographer makes use of various types of lighting and colors to create stress and suspension.

The effect is also enhanced by well-placed furniture in an old house, and a dozen distinctive designs here and there, for example, a unique pattern on the floor and a door with a sophisticated carving. All these elements are presented with abundant montage to form a sense of mystery, which is strengthened by lack of knowledge about hypnosis of most ordinary movie-goers.

It is exactly the unfamiliar nature of the subject that has botched the whole thing. In fear that the viewers might not be able to keep up, the screenwriter Ren Peng deliberately gives away hints early in the film, and it is particularly exhausting when he tries to explain everything near the end. The unnecessary effort certainly helps the viewers understand the story, but it also takes away the fun of hours of brooding and speculating.

So for those who easily lose their patience, the last part of the film may be difficult to sit through, despite good performances from Xu Zheng and Karen Mok. But since the viewers probably got pretty nervous in the first half, they might as well take the time to restore their composure; after all, no one wants to drive home thinking about ghosts, or allegations of ghosts.

 
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