Rigor Mortis Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Anthony Chan, Richard Ng, Chin Siu-Ho, Kara Wai, Nina Paw
  • Director: Juno Mak
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: July 8, 2014
  • Run Time: 105 minutes

  •         My biggest concern with Rigor Mortis was the fact that Takashi Shimizu (best known for the Ju-On/The Grudge franchises) had his name attached as producer, because I have had quite enough of the long-black-haired ghost stories. There were additional elements which worried me, including actor turned director Juno Mak, and the fact that it is a film which relies heavily on the influences of a group of popular narratives in China which never made their mark internationally. I am certain that there is a great deal that I missed out on understanding because of my lack of knowledge when it comes to Chinese vampire series, but even in complete ignorance, I found Rigor Mortis to be a compelling watch.


            Heavily stylized and full of action and horror, this could easily have been a safe and straightforward piece of cinema, but Rigor Mortis is also filled with ambiguity and an underlining postmodern self-referential spirit. I was captivated the entire running time, but rarely did I feel as though I had a complete grasp on what I was watching. The storyline itself is rather simple, though layered with many characters and a unique set of supernatural rules involving ghosts and vampires to be understood. In a strange self-referential twist to the narrative, Mak dedicates the film to the ‘Mr Vampire’ series, casting many of the actors from that franchise in this film. What really adds a bizarre element is the fact that ‘Mr. Vampire’ stars Sui-ho Chin as himself, a burned out actor moving into a dilapidated apartment building to commit suicide.


            When the suicide is unsuccessful, Chin instead finds himself pulled into a familiar world of ghosts and hopping vampires. This gives Chin the opportunity to redeem himself of his past, sacrificing safety in order to protect the innocent tenants of his new home. Although the film is a slow build, there are no visual embellishments spared from the final sequences of action and horror. This is a deceivingly complex film, and if it weren’t for the self-referential implications, Rigor Mortis might just be a stylized action horror movie with little plot and a convoluted twist ending. The more you learn about the background of the film and its stars, however, Rigor Mortis becomes something of an art film hidden in the glossy shell of a genre picture.      


            The bonus features only include a trailer. There are so few extras to offer that even the English subtitles are listed in the bonus features.


    Entertainment Value: 6.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10

    Historical Significance:  5.5/10

    Special Features: 1.5/10

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