Reviewed by: Inner Strength
This film is very bad actually, and not just the story. Though the story is weird to say the least, the acting is awful from everyone, even Anthony Wong! A pointless murdering farce is all that is on offer in A Lamb in Despair.
Reviewed by: ryan
Summary: Lamb in Despair, A (1999)
If you looked up local newspapers two weeks ago, you would have seen a Category III Hong Kong movie called 'A Lamb in Despair' opening in an unusual combination of theatres. Pro-Chinese cinemas like Silver and South China used to refuse to showing some of Golden Harvest's Category III porn films, yet here they were showing 'A Lamb in Despair'.
'A Lamb in Despair' seems to be based on the case of NG Chi-tat, who committed mass murder in the U.S. Ted WOO (Edward MOK Ka-yiu), whom U.S. courts have been unable to charge with 25 murders, returns to Hong Kong. Ted suffered from a split personality, due to his bad childhood memories of his family.
Upon Ted's return, a team of local cops, headed by CHEUNG Tat-ming, looks for a chance to apprehend him. Journalist Charles (Anthony WONG Chau-sang) figures there's no way to punish Ted legally so he induces him to murder other. Charles puts Ted's secondary school photos, with his ex-girlfriend Mandy (Sherming YIU Lok-yee) who is now a radio DJ, in a magazine as a headline article and the murders and rapes start. A counsellor tries to help Ted but with no success. So now the nightmare of murders begins......
On the whole, 'A Lamb in Despair' is a horror/crime story which tries to cover several angles. First, it shows the murderer's motivation for raping and killing people. Second, it is a movie about the love/hate relationship between Ted and his parents. Third, it is about the love between Ted and Mandy.
Out of the three aims, only the first can be considered any sort of success -- the murders happen, we see them. There is some good material covering Ted and his psychological counsellor, but it's disconnected from the rest of the story.
As for Ted's realtions with his family, the flashbacks to his mother are well-used and affective. But there's not enough on Ted and his Dad. The only way for us to understand their real relationship is though Ted's monologues. The lack of material on his father prevnts the story from ringing true. I also thought they should have shown the events that drove Ted over the edge, like how he resisted the threat from his mother.
The protrayal of Ted's love for Mandy is the least successful part of the movie. The basic requirement was to provide some emotiuonal impact towards the end of the movie; but the film fails to build any tension. At least there should be some flashbacks.
The main plot is not the only problem, plenty of other stuff could have used improvement. For example, the copp played by CHEUNG Tat-ming is a bit weird and seems too dumb to believe.
In terms of performance, as the plot is not well organised and there is no room for the actors to express themselves, the performances are stereotyped. Edward MOK as the serial murderer is okay but stereotyped, which makes it hard for him to act out his self-conflicts. CHEUNG Tat-ming is awful, there is no room for him to show his potential. Other characters are forgettable.
'A Lamb for Despair' sets out to be a movie about the mind of a murderer, but the plot and approach made it hard to achieve what it sets out to do. Descriptions of murderer is cliched, the love between Ted and Mandy is pale and the family history is not strong enough. Given CHEUNG Tat-ming's performance as well, this movie has was horrible to watch.