It’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that in this nonsensical near-future crime thriller from Taiwan. Director Aozaru Shiao’s/蕭力修 (TV’s WAKE UP/麻醉風暴) PLURALITY “borrows” heavily from such Hollywood films as SPLIT, THE MATRIX, THE CELL and more.
As PLURALITY opens, a broadcaster announces that the son of Kaohsiung’s city counsellor has been kidnapped. The boy’s disappearance is apparently the latest in a series of child kidnappings that has plagued the city over the past few years and, in every case, no ransom has ever been requested and the children have remained missing. Meanwhile, a bus with five people on board races down an empty road and suddenly flips over and explodes killing everyone. The police, led by Detective Wang (Malaysian actor Frederick Lee/李銘忠, THE SCOUNDRELS/狂徒), believe that the kidnapper was on board. In an effort to track down where the children are, the consciousnesses of the five bus crash victims are uploaded into the mind of one man known only as 193 (Tony Yang/楊祐寧, DYNASTY WARRIORS/真·三國無雙). This experimental technology is led by Dr. Shen (Sandrine Pinna/張榕容, LEGEND OF THE DEMON CAT/妖猫传) who has more than a vested interest in a successful outcome. Her son was kidnapped two years earlier. With five consciousnesses now housed in one body, they compete for dominance, making finding out the truth of who the kidnapper is and where the children are that much harder to work out.
Don’t even bother trying to understand this plot. It is so messed up that even the holes have holes. To start, why are these people all on this bus in the first place and where are they going? Why are the police so sure that one of them is the kidnapper? Why does the broadcaster call one of them a “serial murderer of recent missing children”? They don’t know if the children have been murdered as no bodies have ever been found. Maybe Dr. Shen isn’t the best person to be involved in this case. In a wonderful bit of sexism, Detective Wang even says as much because she’s too emotional. Why isn’t 193 always in restraints? Why is 193 like the Eveready Bunny, who can take a few lickings and keep on ticking? Why does Wang wear a bandage on his hand throughout the film and what’s up with his eye? Is that real or part of the story? I think it’s a prosthetic but it’s significance to the story, which becomes obvious at the end, is never brought up. And Wang must be the dumbest cop in Taiwan. He enters the kidnapper’s lair with his gun half-cocked yet he knows the kidnapper will not be there. Later on, when he enters an abandoned warehouse where he knows the kidnapper will be along with a hostage, he goes in without backup and his gun holstered. Dr. Shen, meanwhile, doesn’t rank much higher on the intelligence scale. She makes dumb decision after dumb decision so that the plot can keep moving forward. There’s much, much more.
Not surprisingly, Yang does most of the hard work here playing multiple personalities, and he does a good job keeping them all unique and recognizable. Unfortunately, the story is so derivative and muddled that it really doesn’t matter how good his performance is.
PLURALITY opens in our cinemas in Hong Kong on Thursday. In case you haven’t worked it out already, it’s pretty bad.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, March 26th, 8:30 am HK time!
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