Heartfall Arises: worthwhile for viewers with suitably adjusted expectations
Director Wu Pinru makes his debut with the big budget psychological thriller Heartfall Arises (Vietnamese name: KINH THIEN PHA), produced by Wilson Yip.
The film has a couple of award-winning megastar leads in Sean Lau Ching Wan and Nicholas Tse. That teaming up again four years after the popular thriller The Bullet Vanishes, join by Liya, Mavis Fan, Babyjohn Choi and Vengo Gao Weiguang.
The film opens with Nicholas Tse as detective Ma as he hunts a serial killer nicknam ‘General’ (Vengo Gao). Although he manages to bring down his quarry, Ma ends up getting shot in the heart, his life only being save by a transplant. A year and a half later, General seems to have return from the dead when a series of murders. That take place matching his old methods, and Ma turns to criminal psychology professor Che (Lau Ching Wan) for assistance on the case. Not quite back to full strength, Ma finds himself being drawn into a battle of wits with the mysterious Che. Who clearly has his own plan and is hiding something from the beleaguer detective.
Wu Pinru certainly seems to think Heartfall Arises is an intelligent and meaningful film, and to be fair.
There’s certainly a lot going on, with plenty of plot twists, drama and pseudo-science. That about inherit cellular memory from organ transplants and hypnotism. Unfortunately, while the film thankfully isn’t pretentious, it’s pretty dumb and chaotic, often making little sense as it hurtles along. Wu throwing in an endless stream of confusing visions and red herrings in an effort to keep the audience guessing.
Wu relies heavily on chess as a cat and mouse metaphor, and the contest between Ma and Che takes centre stage. He leaving the rather inconsistent plot involving the suppose return of General in the background and at times feeling almost pointless. The film ultimately doesn’t make much sense, and despite Wu’s efforts at misdirection. That most viewers will see the final revelation coming a mile off.
Still, while the film isn’t exactly believable.
It is trashy fun if approach in the right mood, and its cheerful lack of logic and odd twists are amusing. Wu not even bothering to try and negotiate his way around the many gaping plot holes in the script. There’s always lots going on, including some decent action scenes. The film is never boring, progressing at a reasonable pace and benefitting from some solid blockbuster-style glossy production values. Lau Ching Wan and Nicholas Tse are the main draw here. Though the two aren’t exactly push by the material, they’re both on enjoyable form. Tse moping around moodily and Lau seeming to have had a fine old time chewing the scenery as he spouts nonsense.
There’s enough here to make Heartfall Arises worthwhile for viewers with suitably adjust expectations. That though by no means a great film, it is at least entertaining. While Wu Pinru’s direction is clumsy and the plotting is in places incoherent, there’s something to be said for its cavalier daftness. Fans of Lau Ching Wan and Nicholas Tse should have a pretty good time watching its silly mysteries unfold.