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Any Other Side
 Any Other Side     Any Other Side

(left) Qi Yuwu and Chrissie Chau, and (right) Deng Jiajia and Van in Any Other Side.
AKA: Nightclub Suspense Tale, Nightclub School Hospital
Chinese: 夜店詭談
Year: 2012
Director: Captain Fang
Writer: Captain Fang
Cast: Van, Chrissie Chau Sau-Na, Deng Jiajia, Qi Yuwu, Zhao Yingjun, Jill Hsu, Yida Huang, Yuen King-Tan
  The Skinny: Unremarkable suspense omnibus with unoriginal concepts and worse direction. You might see it if you like the stars but even then you should be disappointed. The irritating third segment seals the deal on this one.
by Kozo:
The scariest thing about horror/sci-fi omnibus Any Other Side is that someone spent time and money making it. This three-story film isnít terrible at first glance; the stories make use of familiar genre concepts, and the production values arenít bad considering the obvious low budget. Also, the first two stories manage some diversion despite questionable acting and truncated development. However, direction is overall rather weak and the third story is so irritating that whatever goodwill or tolerance the first two stories engender just dies. If thereís a cliff, then Any Other Side falls right off it.

Written and directed by Captain Fang (yes, thatís his name), Any Other Side uses the framing device of a bunch of friends hanging out in a nightclub. To pass the time, the group shares dark stories, with each tale depicted using the same actors. A China supernatural/horror movie about a bunch of people telling fictional supernatural/horror stories? Yep, thatís how the filmmakers get around those pesky China censorship rules, and just to make things more complex, the stories are sometimes layered with even more levels of untruth. Something about this is actually clever, though given the practical need (imaginary stories = okay by SARFT) itís hard not to see the storytelling device as a cop out.

Story one is presented by handsome Qi Yuwu (Painted Skin, 14 Blades), and tells the tale of feuding twin sisters (both played by Chrissie Chau) preyed upon by their murderous husband (Van of Cape No. 7). This half-hour segment might work better as a full-length feature; as a short, the plot twists and fake-outs have to be delivered via droning exposition. The time granted a full-length feature might have allowed for an actual narrative rather than an explained series of plot twists. Some deviations into mind-bending darkness restore some interest, but the execution isnít impressive enough to sustain matters. At the very least, thereís potential here. Giving this segment a B- score is generous, but what the hell, letís do it.

Story two doesnít rate higher praise. Van returns as a father taking his daughter on a nighttime drive, before deciding upon a detour down a one-way street. He hits a guy, his daughter disappears and we basically enter The Twilight Zone. This well-shot journey into unremarkable metaphysical shenanigans has some decent twists, but the whole thing is marred by a too-cute female archetype played by actress Jill Hsu. Overall, her performance is a symptom of the whole cast, as the acting is generally average to worse, and the characters played are never that interesting. This segment also features rampant exposition to explain all its wonky sci-fi-like concepts. Pro tip: dialogue and prose are not interchangeable.

Story three is interminable and a right disaster. Deng Jiajia (Double Trouble) is a nurse working at a hospital with a secret. Iíll give it away: everyone in one closed-off wing is a zombie, and some ape pop culture figures like Michael Jackson, American superheroes, and even horror icons Freddy and Jason. Thereís even a scene (glimpsed in the trailer) where a bunch of zombies do the Michael Jackson ďThrillerĒ dance, which could lead to an outbreak of hives for the audience. Adding to the silliness, the nurses (One played by Chrissie Chau, yow!) dress in totally inappropriate cosplay/SM outfits that would never be used in an actual hospital. This last segment is played far more for comedy than the others, but thatís not a positive when the jokes are mostly cringe-worthy and self-amused. Nineties Hong Kong Cinema bonus: Yuen King-Tan plays the evil head nurse, and she still looks like herself.

The film closes with a return to the framing device, picking up on the tale of a depressed girl (also played by Deng Jiajia) moping over the recent disappearance of her boyfriend (singer Yida Huang). This leads the film to its final metaphysical gymnastics, propelling things towards a pseudo-clever climax that makes no sense and doesnít really try to. Itís nice that Captain Fang made an effort to tie his multiple stories together, but for what reason besides his own amusement is hard to fathom. Any Other Side kills time but does not alleviate boredom, providing unchallenging and only sporadically entertaining diversion Ė hardly an enthusiastic or positive description. Sorry, Captain Fang, no promotion for you. (Kozo 2012)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd. (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
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