A Mysterious Murder (2002)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2011-08-22
Summary: Dreadful and not in a good way
There are two reasons to watch “A Mysterious Murder”. One is that Teresa Mak, with her full-lipped and heavy lidded casual sensuality is onscreen a lot; the other is a thirty second scene between Shing Fui-On and a developer who is setting him up as part of a murder plot. The script is more or less derivative of “The Happiness of the Katakuris” by Takishi Miike—actually much less since it lacks all the edgy wit and surrealistic outrageousness of the Japanese film. “A Mysterious Murder” has a terrible script, wooden acting, by the numbers direction and simplistic cinematography and lighting. It isn’t funny, scary or even interesting.

We first meet the whiny, unhappy family walking to the lodge they have purchased and plan to run, complaining about everything. Father, mother, a son and two daughters plus an uncle (mom’s brother) make up the group. They run into trouble immediately—nothing is happening, the road leading past the lodge is a mess and most people are simply passing through with not need to stop for the night. When they finally get a customer, a guy who looks creepy and acts crazy, they are so thrilled that the five of them gather around to watch him sign the register. As the first guest he is also the first on premises death.

His death might be a suicide—he is found in bed with a large knife sticking out of his chest, which would be a hard way for a person to kill himself but it presents an easy way to show both the dead body and an obvious cause of death. The difficulties really begin when the family decides to keep things secret, worried that if word gets out they will never have any customers. So they bury his body, not informing the police and try to simply get on with things. But if they didn’t get along before having a fresh corpse in a newly dug grave adds to the tension. The second and third people to die also take their own lives this time more traditionally with an overdose of sleeping pills following a few hours of energetic (but decorously draped) sex so there are two more bodies to dispose of. The next is more problematic; when a horny guest attacks one of the daughters her brother comes to her rescue but after pulling the guy away from her and knocking him out he grabs a rock and kills him with it. This is the first killing by a member of the family but it won’t be the last.

There is also a murder plot—a developer wants to get rid of his sister so that when his aged father dies he won’t have to split the inheritance. The three of them—father and adult children—check in. The developer has given secret (and misunderstood) instructions to Shing Fui-On on what rooms each should occupy. A hired killer will arrive at midnight and is to be given the room next to the daughter.

The person who arrives at midnight is a police officer working undercover and investigating the disappearances of local people from the lodge. The killer is three hours late isn’t recognized and is given the wrong room. Both he and the policeman are dead before morning.

There is some running around with bodies including digging up those already buried and moving them to a new grave, some incomprehensible running byplay between the sisters and jokes about how the uncle is always looking for sex. None of it is funny—it is so dreadful it could be called anti-funny.

The only funny scene is a standalone bit between Shing Fui-On and the actor playing the developer. It takes place on a golf driving range. The developer doesn’t want to come out and say that he wants help murdering his so he speaks circumspectly, punctuating every few sentences with "You don't know anything, right?" The problem is that Shing Fui-On really doesn't know what the developer is talking about. Instead of recruiting him in a murder for hire scheme the developer has only left him confused and frustrated.

“A Mysterious Murder” gets two points out of ten and only scores that high because of Teresa Mak’s insouciant sexiness. If one were immune to her charms it would rate a one but only because the range doesn’t start at zero.
Reviewer Score: 2