"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Monday, September 9, 2013

Justice Devil - the Devil in the Detail

It is said that when a young film maker wants to make a feature film so badly but ain't got the money, he would set up ten characters in a room and have them graphically and violently killed one by one. Typically, it involves a mysterious psychopath wielding an axe or a terrifying instrument of death, hunting them down at a jinxed destination. Perverse as it may seem, such films sell well  to a ready audience with the insatiable appetite fuelling a series of such films, now called the "slasher genre". Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) is probably one such front runner, and more recently, we have "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street".

"Justice Devil" is a slasher film and is probably the first locally made movie of such a kind in Malaysia and Singapore. Its young director Harvaraj has successfully put together script, people, money and distributors to have us all, cast, crew, and audience alike, momentarily transported into the dark world of betrayal, deceit, revenge, torture, violence, blood, gore and sex. No easy feat. Perhaps a genre that the more established producers/directors would not want to thread into risking too much to break into and pioneer.

The movie is about a young Ellen (played by Ris Low) seeking revenge after she  got herself mixed up with an organised drug cartel and lost her boyfriend and baby. But lest you assume the movie to be just a mindless pursuit of blood and gore, think again. I too thought of  it that way until I got a comment from a Ris Low fan  who said that he sees the movie as a manifestation of "Ris Low's Revenge". (Yes, she actually have fans to her name.) Then, a coin dropped in my head. It provoked me to dig deeper to discover that masked underneath the seemingly superficial violence of "Justice Devil" is indeed the life of Ris Low. The devil being in the details and spoken in hidden metaphors. So be fascinated that there is a lot more philosophy and cynicism in the story than it meets the eye. But like a parable, how much one reads into the story would depend on the depth of one's understanding of the symbolisms and metaphors. So everyone will walk away with a version of the story they are happy with.

Remember, the story is about Ellen (Ris Low) fighting back after her regretable foray into narcotics (her credit card fraud) and is now up against the drug cartel (the media mob) after having lost her baby (her beauty queen crown).  So most of us would have participated in the Ris Low story, either as news reporters, critics, and for my case, as an actor. I wonder what my character Mr White, the drug lord who has a soft spot for Ellen, represents in Ris' life. Does he represent her father? Or a tantalising piece of rope tempting and long enough to entangle herself in endless knots? I wonder.  Are you a fan, critic or follower of Ris? How are you represented in the movie? Amid the swings of the axe, the slashes and the screams, you may discover.

Ris certainly lives a colourful life as someone only in her early 20s. I sometimes forget that and have to look closer to remind myself that in this young woman, there also lives a soul, who just like anyone else, yearns to live a normal life. Ellen's boyfriend in the movie symbolises this aspect of Ris - to want to live a normal life, get married and have a family.

Soon in Theatres near you in Malaysia and Singapore.

For other posts about Justice Devil, click here.

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