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The Film
Horoscope II: The Woman From Hell

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
87 mins

Genre(s)
Suspense Horror
Thriller

Director(s)
Cheng Wai Man

Stars
Pinky Cheung
Simon Yam
Sophie Ngan

DVD Distributor
Universe

DVD Origin
Hong Kong

Region Code
All

DVD Format
NTSC

Audio Tracks
Cantonese Mono
Mandarin Mono


Subtitles
Chinese, English, Bahasa Malaysia

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
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Horoscope II: The Woman From Hell


Film & DVD Review
Yeung (Simon Yam) and Choi (Pinky Cheung) are thought to be the perfect couple. After a friend commits suicide in front of them, a lot of weird things happen from then on. Each night Choi has the same nightmare that Yeung is having sex with a mysterious girl. Moreover, Choi starts to see this girl in her life. Yeung's behaviour suddenly changes. Choi's best friend introduces her to a mystical monk, who she wants to use to find out if what is going on is a conspiracy or an illusion...

After watching part one in this series recently and discovering that it wasn't nearly as good as I recalled it being, I thought I'd better check out part 2 to see how it compares with my memory. Fortunately it wasn't as much of a let down as its predecessor, but I'm guessing my standards must have been raised in the years that have passed since I first watched Horoscope II: The Woman From Hell as it still wasn't as good as remembered.

The film starts mysteriously and delightfully, immediately setting the tone for the rest of the film. We see strange goings on, eerie colours, a man being cursed, a woman dancing mystically and clearly in the process of doing some sort of black magic and to cap all that off in the great opener, she's topless! It is none other than Sophie Ngan as the film's sorceress, but don't get your hopes up too much, she's got some strategically place heavy glitter/scales which curbs the delight a little. Anyway, these opening scenes introduce three of the main characters and it is around them that the story revolves. The other two are Pinky Cheung and Simon Yam as the married couple who's lives are about to be drastically invaded.

The mystery of what's going on is the film's strongest trait, as nothing is really revealed for quite a long time. You know who is doing what, albeit with elements of doubt, but as things pile up and matters get worse, then better, then worse, one thing always remains unclear - why is this all happening? Why is the sorceress woman bewitching the family? I couldn't remember the answers to these questions from my first viewing years ago, so I was glad to discover that I was actually interested in learning the answers. When a film makes you want to know why the events are taking place, you know it has done something right. The film successfully nudged my curiosity awake, and it took an interest.

Alas that was pretty much it for highly positive features. Virtually all the rest of the film was nothing more than bog standard average. It was never bad, but it never managed to venture into the mystic realms of a good film either. When Choi starts to go a little bit loopy from the others' perspectives, I didn't find myself actually caring too much for the character. No sympathy, empathy or other emotions had been evoked for her. All I wanted to know was the big question "Why?" concerning the sorceress. Everyone could gladly get hacked to pieces and die horrible deaths as long as my initial curiosity is satisfied. That was not a good thing. The film awakened my curiosity, it really should have built on that and started stirring with my emotions, playing with the mystery to keep me guessing, rather than being fairly flat, bland and uninvolving.

Things pick up towards the end as the answers start to come together and the initial explanation for what happens in the film did managed to make me feel slightly sorry for Choi, but a touch of over acting from her ruined it a little, along with the prospect of her potential suicide. Sorry love, but killing yourself isn't going to make me feel sorry for you. You give up on yourself; I'll make sure I've given up on you too. Then the twist in the end lifts things a little more giving a fairly entertaining conclusion. It is a shame that so much of the film is so average, as there was potential here for a better film. With the plot this was never going to be a classic Hong Film, but it could have stood above so many others, but it has managed to get lost in the crowd instead.

Audio & Subtitles
A Cantonese mono track is all that is available in the original language here. Being mono it is hardly spectacular. Everything is clear enough although at times the sound does seem a little hollow. That aside I didn't notice anything else really worth mentioning.

The subtitles are littered with minor spelling and grammar errors and a few getting towards major mistranslations. The minor errors are easy to fix in your head as it is still always obvious what is meant by the text on screen. The more major mistranslations have put the wrong English word in on a few occasions. If I recall correctly it was something bizarre like using the word 'or' instead of the word 'and', as 'or' implied the wrong thing to what was happening on screen. However, I still managed to figure out what was meant.

Quality
The film is somewhat soft in appearance and a little bleached out in the colour department. There's frequent use of eerie colours, but the greens in particular just did not seem strong enough. There was only a little in the way of blemishes on the print and on the whole it was decent. Grain levels seemed low too.

DVD & Extras
As is the way with most Universe DVD releases from this time, there is the standard array of extras - Stars' Files (Pinky Cheung and Simon Yam), the theatrical trailer and some other films' trailers.

Overall
This is just an average suspense thriller, with a decent twist at the end. It has a few features that raise it slightly, a good opening and the ability to spark my curiosity, but it doesn't build enough on that to become the film it should have been. There are three other things in Horoscope II: The Woman From Hell that raise it to a 3 from a 2.5. One is Pinky Cheung as she is very cute, and the other two belong to Sophie Ngan!

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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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