Missing

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Rome International Film Festival 

ROME -- A poignant romantic thriller about love and loss, mixed up with a ghost story and underwater archeology and a bit of off-beat black humor, "Missing" by noted Hong Kong helmer Tsui Hark is quite a messy piece of work. The hodge-podge of genres seems like a dysfunctional flashback to his ground-breaking early films, which blended sci fi/fantasy and murder mystery elements much more successfully. Despite a name cast and some effective moments, this is not going to come anywhere near the boxoffice of Hark's blockbusters from the 1980s. And multiple endings make it seem even longer than two hours.

Yet the film is full of curious ideas. Too full, in fact. The main story has psychiatrist Dr. Jing Gao (Angelica Lee, scream queen in the Pang Brothers' "The Eye" and "Recycle") fall for underwater photographer Dave Chen (Guo Xiao Dong), only to lose him during a dive they make to the ruins of a submerged city off Japan's Yonaguni Island. In the next scene, she is holding an eerie funeral for his headless body. Chen's sexy sister (Isabella Leong) doubts that it's her brother in the coffin, but Jing Gao can't remember what happened down there.

Her great longing to see Chen again leads her first to be hypnotized by Dr. Tong (a cameo by Tony Leung Ka-Fai), then to follow the instructions of one of her patients (a batty but likable Chang Chan) for seeing ghosts. This leads to a few moments of happily creepy horror and special effects, including a train bursting into Gao's living room and a jealous eight-foot phantom (Chang's dead girlfriend) riding the elevator with her. Then the ghosts vanish and the film turns into a sentimental psychological thriller capped with a romantic, bitter-sweet ending.The whole thing looks quickly shot and put together, from the unexceptional underwater scenes to an oft-repeated theme song about undying love.

Production company: Film Workshop Co. Ltd.
Cast: Angelica Lee (Lee Sinje), Guo Xiao Dong, Isabella Leong, Chang Chan, Tony Leung Ka-Fai.
Director/screenwriters/producer: Tsui Hark.
Co-producer: Zhang Zhao.
Director of photography: Sakamoto Zensho.
Production designer: Kenneth Mak.
Music: Ricky Ho.
Costumes: Silver Cheung.
Editor: Yau Chi Wai.
Sales Agent: Mandarin Films Distribution Co., Hong Kong.
No rating, 118 minutes.

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