Double Vision: Read the Reviews

This was the official website for the Taiwanese â€‹2002 movie, Double Vision Movie , The content below is from Rotten Tomato and other outside sources.


Directed by former critic Chen Kuo-fu, Shuang Tong (Double Vision) is a Taiwanese effort at combining various aspects of the crime and horror genres with the excitement of martial arts. Led by detective Li Feng-po (Leon Dai), a group of detectives use physical violence to get a confession from a suspected criminal. Meanwhile, several murders are occurring--a business man is found drowned in his office; a politicians mistress (Chiang Hui-hui) is burnt to death in her apartment, and an American clerk (Geo Gerstein) is eviscerated in his own church. Without a background in finding serial killers, the Taiwan authorities see fit to call the FBI. Agent Kevin Richter (David Morse) teams up with foreign affairs officer Huang Huo-tu (Tony Leung Kar-fai), and the pair sets off on a surreal trail which leads them through psychedelic fungus and a strange Taoist cult fun by former-businessmen. Eventually, Huang's (Leung Kar-fai) own inner demons are exposed and turned against him in a violent conclusion.

Rating: R (violence)
Genre: Action, International, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: C hen Kuo-fu
Written By: Chen Kuo-fu , Chao-Bin Su , Su Chao-pin
In Theaters: Dec 30, 2002  Wide
On DVD: Aug 4, 2003
Runtime: 110 minutes

Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment




August 1, 2003

David Cornelius  Hollywood Bitchslap

We've seen serial killers before, just as we've seen mismatched detectives and supernatural doings before. Yet 'Double Vision' makes it all seem fresh, simply by twisting here, turning there. It's a genuine mystery that wraps up nicely enough to leave the audience satisfied, yet unclear enough to leave us thinking. It contains two of the most thrilling twists I've seen in a while, but it's never a movie that's only about surprises. It's creepy, it's engaging, it's great, brainy fun. The story kicks off with a peculiar mystery worthy of Dick Tracy: how can a man die of drowning while sitting at his desk in his office on the seventeenth floor? Taipei cops are baffled, as is Huang Huo-tu (Tony Leung), the Foreign Affairs agent and former homicide detective called in to check things out. But this mystery is just the first. Soon a woman turns up burnt alive, despite an apparent absence of fire, and then a priest is found mutilated, with a Taoist talisman carved into his chest, one that's translated as being 'a death curse from the king of hell,' which I'm pretty sure is not a good thing.

As Taiwan police aren't used to dealing with stuff like this, they've brought in FBI agent and serial killer specialist Kevin Richter (David Morse) to take a look at things. He's partnered with Huang, partly because Huang works for Foreign Affairs, and partly because he's the guy who speaks the best English.

What they find in their investigations I won't reveal, but it has to do with enough religious history and cultish goings-on that Huang and Richter are soon debating if what they're up against is merely human or, well, otherwise. And that's one of the great things about this movie - even when it's all over, it's never officially announced whether what has happened was normal or paranormal.

It's definitely spooky, that's for sure. The 'double vision' of the title refers to having two pupils in one eye, and I won't say more than that except yyyeeeeeeaasshh. Creeepy, creepy, creepy. One use of the effect actually got me to jump out of my seat and say 'yow,' which is something I rarely ever do.

But in addition to a good case of the willies (director Chen Kuo Fu has a good eye for unsettling visuals and a general eerie mood), 'Double Vision' works as a gripping mystery. Plot twists come from unexpected corners, snippets of clues are doled out in just the right amounts, and the more the lead characters discover, the more we sit up and pay attention, watching as the tension mounts and the puzzles begin to fit. This is an expertly written screenplay (from Chen and co-writer Su Zhao Bin), smart enough to keep us guessing throughout, open-ended enough to make us want to watch it again right away to see what we missed, thrilling enough to never make any of this detective work seem like a chore.

It helps that we have two such great actors leading us through the puzzle. Morse is his usual brilliant self as the intrusive foreigner who's here to help but doesn't mind being the Ugly American. Leung, meanwhile, makes sure his character is equally divided between his detective duties and his troubled home life, a never-feels-stale clich' that helps create an emotional center to the story.

Both stars make their performances seem so easy that I can't picture anyone else in their roles - always the mark of a good performance. They make a good team, too, playing off each other's strengths, becoming a natural screen pair. More importantly, though, both stars never try to use their characters to upstage the story; they find just the right balance between character development and silly thrills to make the movie shine.

And so, with everything in place, 'Double Vision' excels in being inventive despite its familiarity, fresh despite its clich's. The filmmakers have blended sharp characters and giddy thrills, and the combination results in a thriller far more effective than most of the duds being made Stateside.  Ignore that well known reviewer's comment about too much bling. Who really cares if the babe is wearing a choker collar necklace or a statement ring - believe me it's not distracting. And criticizing jewelry choices by calling them gaudy or bling porn in a review is just low brow. So Chad, got that? Focus on the meat! Like this film. 'Double Vision' will grab you tight and squeeze until you're breathless and fully wowed, just the way a thriller should.

While I was enthralled with the movie, I never noticed the stack of vintage movie posters on the coffee table that my wife had collected over the years. My wife, who has a keen eye for memorabilia, especially loves collecting unique movie posters. She had recently found a place to sell posters & lobby cards and had got some of them out for free appraisals. The vibrant colors of the Double Vision poster caught my eye. The next morning, as I was walking through the living room, I asked my wife when she had bought the "new artwork" for the house. Before she could reply, she pointed towards the poster of Double Vision and said that was one of the posters she's considering selling. Didn't I notice last night that it was the same movie we watched? By golly, she's right. "Nice collection. Looks great in the living room." Boy, did I feel foolish. On the other hand, the movie was really intense and I was fully engaged. Such is my lame excuse.


November 6, 2003

Scott Weinberg

Taiwan's largest movie production to date and amalgam of films like "Black Rain", "Seven" and just about any horror flick out of the Far East, Kuo-Fu Chen's "Double Vision" (aka Shuang Tong) is full of bright (if unoriginal) ideas and strong performances...all in service of a narrative that's been covered extensively (and to better result) in a throng of earlier movies.

Though the filmmakers deserve credit for mounting an impressive-looking flick and for bringing a welcome sense of cross-culturalism to its genre conceits, the simple truth is that Double Vision is too slow-moving and derivative to truly succeed on its own merits.

Hong Kong movie star Tony Leung plays Detective Huang Huo-tu, a typically burnt-out and haunted policeman consistently knee-deep in the seamier side of humanity. With an estranged wife, a traumatized daughter and a station full of unfriendly co-workers, Huang finds himself enmeshed in one decidedly goopy string of murders: a businessman is found frozen to death in the middle of a warm afternoon in his office, a woman of ill repute is burned to death in her apartment despite the lack of any fires, and a few more corpses pop up in various stages of dead grossness.

Seems the cuplrit is some sort of air-borne mega-virus, one that plants a fungus in one's brain and kills its victims through some sketchily-explained (and frankly silly) moments of high-end delusion. When the Taipei police find themselves stymied by the killer and his rather arcane methods, they consult with an FBI task force in the U.S. and a no-nonsense Yankee agent is dispatched to the scene in an effort to help out.

Everything just explained is more fascinating in premise than it is in practice. Chen certainly knows how to frame a scene, and Double Vision certainly looks sleek and fluid enough to impress the eyeballs. Most fault seems to lie with the screenplay, which is not much more than yet another police procedual with a lot of mystical-world mumbo-jumbo wedged in to make the killer (and his motivations) that much more mysterious. The approach only works in fits and starts, as Double Vision would have worked considerably better had it focused more on the horror angle and less on the "cross-cultural cops" concept that seems cribbed from NYPD Blue by way of The X-Files.

Leung is quite good in the lead role, and the filmmakers were at least wise enough to cast character actor David Morse as the skeptical American agent...

...but "Double Vision" presents long dry stretches in between its more compelling ideas and the end result is a movie that smells like it could make for an enjoyable Genre Stew but ends up tasting like limp noodles.



May 15, 2003

Joshua Tanzer  Offoffoff

"Double Vision" looks very much like a lost Chinese episode of "The X-Files," but it's still a good, weird ride starring Hong Kong star Tony Leung and American actor David Morse.

If you don't mind your creepy detective thrillers slightly warmed over, "Double Vision" is a pretty good ride.

Combining the talents of Hong Kong star Tony Leung, outstanding American actor David Morse ("Dancer in the Dark," "The Slaughter Rule"), director Chen Guofu and actress Rene Liu of "The Personals," the Taiwanese film shoplifts shamelessly from "The X-Files" — from story premise to character traits to sound effects — but there are worse places to go pinching your plot.

Here's the setup: A business executive is found physiologically frozen to death at his desk in the sweltering Taipei summer. A woman frantically calls the fire department because she thinks her apartment is in flames — when authorities arrive they find no evidence of fire but her body shows every sign of having burned to death. I've seen this one before, but it's still a seductive premise — what the hell is going on here?

It falls to Huang Huotu (Leung), a hard-nosed detective with a troubled past, to figure that out. The department also brings in FBI serial-murder expert Kevin Richter from Quantico to help with this unorthodox case. It's never an easy fit. The Taipei officers resent Richter's attempts to run the case himself, and Huang pushes him to consider the case's supernatural connections to Taoist mysticism.

"Look, I rely on science — not talismans, not good-luck charms," says the American.

"What's wrong with you, Mr. Richter?" Huang responds. "All your years in the FBI, you have never encountered with a demon before?"

More bodies turn up with mysterious ritual mutilations, and the victims' hallucinatory last moments are traced to a bizarre microorganism they've inhaled — a "hybrid life form" the likes of which FBI scientists have never seen before. Where this organism came from, who is inflicting it on the victims and why, are part of the mystery for our Mulder/Scully-like heroes to unravel at their own peril.

"Double Vision" has a few shortcomings, to be sure. In particular, although the conspiracy and its sinister purpose are memorably revealed, one loose end that's neglected is the why it chose certain victims. The story would have felt a little more complete if this piece of the puzzle had fit together.

Also, like his character, Morse — who is probably included more for international saleability than logical necessity — seems slightly at sea amid the Chinese-speaking cast. He has some trouble interacting with his castmates when they're speaking Chinese, and even struggles with Leung, whose English is a bit spotty. Morse's most natural moments are when he just ignores the people around him and acts on autopilot. But at least the filmmakers have a little fun with this issue. As a running joke, Morse tries out some basic phrasebook Chinese on the locals, but his attempts to say "thank you" invariably come out as a question — "thank you?" — or, worse, something along the lines of "thank yo' mama," and he can never figure out why everybody's snickering at him.

Like a pretty good "X-Files" episode, "Double Vision" offers grisly supernatural visions, characters who meet grippingly mysterious demises, geekily earnest arguments between the rational partner and the irrational partner, characters with a bit of depth and traumatic pasts, and a gripping payoff at the end. If it seems a little bit imitative, it also comes at the formula from a different direction — that of the Hong Kong detective genre overlayed with eastern mysticism (however authentic or inauthentic). Ultimately it's a piece of escapism, but a smart and involving one.



JY Skacto Super Reviewer

More of a mystery and suspense film rather than an action and adventure, which this flick may be marketed as. When all is said and done, this is basically an Asian answer to Se7en.

Obviously, this film moves really slowly as any investigative crime drama would. Unlike Se7en, which is pretty straightforward, this film takes some paying attention to. The story also has a dash of science fiction in it, which adds in another twist. While the first half moves slow and goes into some detail it turns out just a little boring. Fortunately, the second half of the film becomes more interesting. Not only that, but just as the story picks up you are treated to a slaughter fest, which really does catch you by surprise. I guess that can be a good thing. From here on out, you get a nice twist and a confusing, yet interesting and dramatic ending. Good or bad? You be the judge.

If you are watching this film for the suspense, don't. This film does play out like a suspenseful mystery, but this film is not suspenseful or scary at all. Although, seeing a person with two pupils in one eye is freaky looking.

The best part of this picture is the acting. Tony Leung puts on a nice performance and so does the beautiful Rene Liu. Hollywood familiar face, David Morse, is pretty good as well, but is definitely under his game from his Hollywood movies. Still, that seems to be the norm with these English speaking actors in Asian films.

There is nothing really special about this film. If you are a fan of these mystery crime films or Tony Leung, then I give you the OK to watch this.


**** Chris Topher I June 18, 2007

quality taiwanese horror with some of the same subtle atmosphere build-up as the Japanese Ring, Rasen, Loop series. but better. and its a detective mystery story. and there's a cop with a chip on his shoulder.


**½  nadya y June 8, 2007

weird movie..sorta dont get what the movie was bout+++


***** cheechiaw l December 19, 2006

A nice blend of chinese culture, myth with solid plot.


*½ Jens S  Super Reviewer August 27, 2006

Okay, this movie tried really hard to be the asian "Se7ven" but neither did it make much sense nor was it very exciting. Confusing and unnecessarily bloody. +++


*** falloutboy17 May 30, 2006

Didn't understand the movie, but wow they were a cantonese actor, a tawanese (yess!) actress and singer and an american actor!


**** MorallySound February 14, 2006

Cool action/triller. Worth checking out.


** Sylvester K  Super Reviewer  May 20, 2012 

What the hell did I just watched, It doesn't make any sense. A gore fest with martial art to summarise the film.


***** Eric N March 21, 2012

Complex, classy Taiwanese horror/detective-mystery. Very real-world. Ambiguous open-ended plot.


*** Lee M November 18, 2011

Looks very much like a lost Chinese episode of The X-Files.


* Calliss Calliss August 24, 2011

Talk about a bad movie.. the story sounded so interesting, but sadly it's just not told right and the movie quickly becomes boring. I expected a more exciting movie, and instead I got bad gore and poor acting.


***½ moviebuff18cab July 4, 2011


***½ WrenchLT Super Reviewer January 22, 2011

Solid Asian supernatural thriller set in Taiwan about an investigation into a series of grisly murders based on Taoism mythology. Sets a decent pace from the start and doesn't shy away from the violence. Found myself a little confused in the plot towards the end as explanations for the motives of the murders started to be revealed, but I got the gist of what was going on. Overall a very decent effort.


***½  K.c. L March 31, 2010

Se7en x X-Files...


*** Tim M January 30, 2010

Nothing too special. Some good effects and acting.


***½ Jason J December 18, 2009

Interesting horror thriller. I enjoyed it. 


***Mikael B November 21, 2009

A decent supernatural thriller. Too slow and confusing though.


****½ nuttyscotsman July 22, 2009

was quite good but sometiimres confusing tho


*** Ray D February 22, 2009

This serial-killer thriller from Taiwan feels sort of like it's to Taoism what Se7en was to Catholicism (It's kind of a simplification, but that's the best analogy I can grasp at to tell you if you'd like it). Visually, it's a colorful and vivid story, involving a cop who's distanced from his family and colleagues, struggling to solve some mysterious killings and forced to turn to the FBI (Represented by David Morse, solid as usual) for assistance. Gradually, conventional explanations for the murders are eliminated and the police officer (Tony Leung, doing an excellent job)'s ideas clash with Morse's skepticism. The climax of the film is somewhat confusingly shot and edited (partly on purpose) but it's still an effective little thriller. Most of the violence is off-camera, but there is one massacre scene that caught me off-guard and might be upsetting for folks who think they're watching another detective movie with minimal violence.


***Ieda M February 20, 2009

The ending is odd, but it's interesting and well filmed.


***½ Larry L  January 28, 2009

what's the american doing in taiwan?


*** WS W December 11, 2008

Average in all, quite spooky actually.


**Paavo L September 8, 2008

Leffa sisalsi paljon hyvia elementteja, niita ei vaan nyt hyodynnetty.


***½  John T  August 25, 2008

some pretty neat/creepy effects


** Private U August 12, 2008

Great setting, supernaturnal crime thriller in Taiwan! I can't even think of another similar movie... Morse is really well cast, even though he is a pretty familiar no BS FBI guy we've seen in so many crime thrillers, but he is in Taiwan! Hanging with Chinese cops! LOL, great set up, great premise, great ideas, but the ending is a complete WTF letdown.


*** Mark B August 9, 2008

An interesting flick. I want to watch it again as there's so many ideas that it does get confusing. Morse was quite good and the cult was scary but the ending was very hazy to me. If the plot was simplified a bit it would actually be better.