Silk Movie Review

No matter how many Asian ghost stories I watch -- and I've watched a lot -- I can never get a handle on what it is exactly that Asian ghosts want. Some are sad, some are lonely, some have unfinished business, some are stuck between worlds, and some want bloody revenge.

While the Taiwanese thriller Silk doesn't come close to providing a definitive answer about ghosts' motivations, it does take the question very seriously and even suggests that ghosts have a kind of enviable existence, in part because "they don't have to look for parking spaces anymore."

The star ghostbuster here is Hashimoto (Yosuke Eguchi), a mysterious superscientist who's been working on an anti-gravity device for the government. One side effect of his research into electromagnetic fields is the discovery that with the application of an aerosol form of the anti-gravity matter to his eyes, he can see ghosts, and he even traps one for further study. This miserable little boy ghost mopes around in a locked apartment all day but doesn't do much, so Hashimoto gets the idea to let him go and follow him to see if he will lead the research team to any interesting conclusions about life, the afterlife, and the ghost lifestyle.

Hashimoto needs an expert cop and tracker for the task, so he recruits Tung (Chang Chen), a sniper/lip reader/eagle eye who is naturally wary of the entire enterprise. Once he gets the aerosol treatment and can see the ghost, the team lets the ghost out, and Tung starts following him up and down alleys, on and off buses (yep, the ghost rides the bus but doesn't pay), and through the streets of Taipei toward a grammar school where something bad once happened. The one vital rule: Don't look the ghost in your eye or he'll be able to see you, reach inside you, and squeeze your heart until you die.

All this business is eerie for sure, though not the least bit scary in the style of, say, The Ring. While the boy ghost and another ghost Tung encounters along the way have the power to kill, they seem disinclined to use it unless provoked, and rather than a tale of horror, Silk evolves into a somewhat meandering philosophical discourse on the meaning of life and death, in great part because it turns out that Hashimoto isn't feeling well and may need the answers to these questions in a big hurry.

The film's biggest payoff is the performance of Chang, who movie fans will recognize as the long-haired warrior from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. He's a charismatic guy and has fun with the strong, silent sniper routine. As the trials and tribulations of the boy ghost lead Tung to start questioning his own life (and specifically his treatment of his dying mother), all these life and death issues weigh heavily on him as well. Silk isn't quite the terrorfest that it's billed as, but it will hold your interest. Just don't expect to scream.

Aka Gui si.

That's what happens when you buy a Larry the Cable Guy DVD.

Cast & Crew

Director : Chou-Bin Su

Producer : Ming Tu


Silk Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 2006


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