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¹ (1965)
The Black Widow

Reviewed by: dleedlee
Date: 09/30/2004

A fine modern mystery.

One night a phone call from a mysterious woman to Lai Cheung Wai prevents him from committing suicide to end run of bad luck. Instead, the stranger beckons him to meet her at a restaurant. In a separate booth, the veiled woman communicates with him via intercom. First, she feeds him, and then proposes to fund him, clothe him and house him. The catch, Cheung Wai has to woo his old classmate, Mui So Sum (Nam Hung). To Cheung Wai’s (Cheung Ying Tsoi) surprise, he discovers that she is now married to Kwan (Mak Gei). Undeterred, Cheung Wai’s proceeds on his benefactor’s mission.

The story unfolds, mostly told in the dark of night time scenes. The scenes are suffused with atmospheric music and shadowy, dim lighting. So Sum’s mother-in-law (Ma Siu Ying in full shrew mode) constantly berates her and hopes to install her niece (Law Lan), Kwan’s cousin as his wife.

So Sum’s life is threatened a few times, once landing her in the hospital. A falling flower pot, a car chase, a beat down by hired thugs and a warehouse fight help fill in the action. Killer tarantulas make a couple appearances, too.

The identity of the Black Widow is slowly unveiled as Kwan’s history and her background is explained.

A plot twist at the end, along with a charitable disposition by the leads makes for a quick wrap up and not altogether satisfying happy ending. But, overall, well worth the ride.

Of note: There is one interesting shot of a Guan Yin/Goddess of Mercy statue juxtaposed with the Black Widow early in the film when she makes her proposition to Cheung Wai. The atonal piano music adds additional suspense to the storytelling. Lee Chi Ling and Nam Hung each sing a song in the nightclub scene where Cheung Wai initially locates So Sum. The two songs strike a contrast as Lee’s is light and romantic while Nam’s is slow and sorrowful.

Reviewer Score: 8