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Friday, August 28, 2015

#1 SERIAL KILLER -- DVD Review by Porfle

From the "he was a quiet man" school of kill flicks, the main character of #1 SERIAL KILLER, a.k.a. "Chink" (2013), is fed up as hell and doesn't want to take being regarded as the office creep anymore.  But instead of going postal, Eddy (Jason Tobin, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT) aspires to something greater--becoming the best serial killer of all time.

It's a pathetic goal and we know Eddy's too much of a loser to achieve even this, but once he gets started he certainly makes a concerted effort to match or surpass his hero, Ted Bundy.  There are scenes of him acting tough and scary in front of the bathroom mirror to clippings of Bundy, and we almost expect the creepy bastard to materialize as a spectral mentor a la Elvis in TRUE ROMANCE. 

At his job in a company called "HK and Chang Imports" (nice name) Eddy's the guy with a hopeless crush on a co-worker--in this case, beautiful blonde babe Amber (Kenzie Dalton).  But no matter how he tries to summon his courage and break the ice he can't help coming off as weird, especially to Amber's bitchy friend Tricia (Shoshana Bush) who keep a suspicious eye on him. 

Amber's rejection of Eddy during a party sends him into a "Carrie"-style nightmare of insecurity and humiliation that stokes his growing urge to make that first big kill.  The violence and audacity of his murders will grow as he becomes more detached from reality and fancies himself some kind of higher being.

Eddy's increased self-confidence comes in handy when he starts dating the new Asian girl in the office, Karena (Eugenia Yuan, I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT), who is actually the boss's reluctant mistress.  Karena helps Eddy overcome his odd self-loathing for being Chinese--he goes by the last name "Richards" and tells people he was adopted by Caucasian parents--and, in scenes that would be rather charming in any other kind of movie, she takes him to various Asian restaurants to introduce him to exotic foods he's never tried before.

This aspect of the story, how Asian-Americans feel about and are perceived by modern American society, is something screenwriter Koji Steven Sakai and director Stanley Yung felt compelled to explore even if it took making their main character a wacko serial killer to do it.  (The original title, "Chink", indicates their desire to be provocative.) 

Be that as it may, the story takes some not-so-unexpected turns when his boss, Mr. Chang (Tzi Ma, RUSH HOUR, THE LADYKILLERS), is angered by Eddy's relationship with Karena and takes action.  This is further complicated when she finally discovers his true nature and he's forced to take desperate actions himself which will result in even more killing and a final shocking resolution to the whole sordid situation. 

All of this potentially garish material is presented in a low-key, deliberately-paced style that's functional without drawing attention to itself.  While I originally expected the film to be torture porn and/or a gorehound's delight, it's actually neither.  Instead, although there are definitely a few "wet" parts, the violence is often suggested (effectively) rather than graphically depicted. 

The DVD from Indican Pictures is in 1:85 widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound and English subtitles.  Extras consist of an official trailer and two festival teasers, a "Chink" music video, a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted and alternate scenes, and cast and crew interviews.

This is more of a twisted character study than anything else, not unlike HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER but without that film's stark realism and heavily oppressive atmosphere. Indeed, Jason Tobin's energetic performance as a monstrous, yet enterprising young psycho, along with that of the likable Eugenia Yuan and the rest of the capable cast, actually gives #1 SERIAL KILLER a kind of light touch that keeps it from descending to the level of more lurid and tawdry entries in the genre.  I didn't love it, but I liked it, despite an ending that I didn't find altogether convincing. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 87 minutes
Format: 1:85
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Sound: Dolby SR
Country: USA
Language: English


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