Dreaming the Reality (1991)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Simon Yun-Ching]

In 1991 Simon Yun-Ching took actresses Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, and guest star Sibelle Hu to Thailand to make 4 (???) films. Seemingly, they knew that this was their best script of the 4 (???), because this film seems to have a significantly bigger or at least better-used budget than all the others from that time.

And the movie they made is wicked cool, one of the best films from the Moon/Yukari partnership. Moon and Yukari play sisters in this one. Killers by trade, they were raised by a rather horrific man (an effective turn by veteran supporting actor Eddie Ko) who brought them and their elder brother up with “no mercy” as their credo. Because of this, they don’t bat an eye at even the most vicious of executions (all of which they carry out with balletic grace and violent aplomb). But Moon is a little perturbed these days, what with all the killing and all. When a hit goes bad, Moon gets amnesia and is rescued by a cute kickboxer named Rocky and his adoptive mother, the street-smart Sibelle Hu. As her sadistic family comes crashing down on moon, Rocky and Sibelle rally to her aid, and violence ensues.

More than bracingly violent, Dreaming the Reality has extremely effective moments of meditation on death and human beings’ participation in it. The whole aesthetic of the film is dark and grim, setting the stage for a more serious questioning of mortality and the alliances that humans form in their lives. As in films like The Mission, character psychology is boiled down to the most basic visual and aural terms, and the actors’ characterizations are done with an appealing shorthand. Next to the original Angel, it’s one of the best films Moon Lee has ever done, and, while the case can be made that Yukari is underused in this one, I would say her part is brief but concentrated, and as well-rendered as can be.

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