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Re-Cycle (2006)

Director: The Pang Brothers
Starring: Angelica Lee, Yang Li
Rated R Running time: 109 minutes
Released by Image Entertainment

Famous writer Ting-Yin (Angela Lee from The Eye) begins work on a supernatural themed novel entitled "Re-cycle". Already under enormous pressure to deliver another bestseller, her situation is complicated by the sudden reappearance of her ex-boyfriend. Not wishing to deal with the bitter memories of their failed relationship, Ting-Yin throws herself into her work. It isn't long before strange things begin happening to her, and she discovers that something is hiding in her apartment. The film begins heading toward the now too familiar long-haired-Asian-ghost-story, but completely changes gears when Ting-Yin finds herself pulled into some other dimension, where her memories, her thoughts, and her nightmares have begun a life of their own.

The second act is where the film hits its stride, and the Pang Brothers unleash their remarkable visual style. I can't think of any other film that looks quite like Re-Cycle - from the wasted cities to the toy-box-from-hell moments - the film shakes off any J-horror comparisons that were invoked in the first thirty minutes. We share Ting-Yin's horror and confusion as she navigates a landscape populated by discarded toys, strange people, and in the film's most startling scene, a horde of zombies. At first glance, it seems that the film sacrifices story for imagery, but by the time the end rolls around, we see that the images are the story. It is not wholly successful, the big revelation is telegraphed relatively early on. Still, the images are so unique, the situations so alien, that we hang on until the very end.

The film loses its footing during the conclusion by going into sentimental overload. It gets sappy. Real sappy. It also might rile certain viewers of a particular political/moral bent. It is a make or break issue, and while I doubt the the Pang Brothers are trying to make a statement in this regards, it will most likely cause a few to think poorly of the film. I can't say any more without giving the surprise away, so I guess you'll just have to take a chance.

As with most of the Pang Brothers films Re-Cycle excels when it wows the viewer with incredible visuals, but stumbles when it slips into the more human elements. Worth checking out when you are in the mood for a surreal, trippy horror/fantasy hybrid. Otherwise, Re-Cycle may not be your cup of tea.

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