It pains me to write this review. I had wanted this movie to be so good that I would be writing glowing personal comment on the gay themed movie. And yet... 

Scud - the writer, director and producer, has made a name for himself among the gay communities in East with his daring production involving little or zero clothings among the main male stars, something that other directors from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and more try to avoid. Watching City Without Baseball (2008) (directed together with Lawrence Ah Mon), one would be stunned by his daringness to show the male stars in their skin.

So much was mentioned of this next production - Permanent Residence (2009), where it was said to take a step closer to portraying a close relationship between two males, instead of a group friendship in City.

Scud chose the right formula - guys audience would approve of. Wonderful-looking and acceptable acting skills, including likable movie characters. This was the same formula Scud used for his new movie - Amphetamine (2010). The movie banked on the relationship developed between Daniel (Thomas Price) and Kafka (Byron Pang). Just like in Permanent Residence, Scud chose two male leads which would almost be comparable as beautiful Eastern version of Aaron and Christian of Latter Day (2009) fame. I was already liking the movie when it started, but in fear that the movie would lose in direction as demonstrated by PR. 

Daniel was on a business trip to Hong Kong, taking up a stay of 3 months, to work for a company. He met Kafka, who was strangely named after a Japanese comic character by his martial art teacher. Still, I thought it was funny that even Kafka's mother would address him as that, because I would imagine Kafka would be a name for him in the later stage of his life. I mean, his mom would have called him by the name she had given him). Kafka, poor. Daniel, rich. Kafka, a swimming instructor, hoping to make ends meet. Daniel, successful in financial industry. Kafka told his girlfriend that he thought Daniel was interested to bed with him after a love-making session. The film showed how their friendship grew stronger, ended up with the two of them sharing many a thing - kisses and a bed.

And then, the problem was revealed. Kafka was addicted to ice. I did not know how the story did not manage to show up at the beginning but it was a problem. The ice made Kafka hallucinated a lot and eventually this caused their relationship to be affected.

It is hard to be totally disappointed with Scud's work because to a certain extent, I did appreciate his contribution to the gay film world. So often I would measure new gay film releases to the gems of the earlier years, such as Beautiful Thing (1996), Get Real (1999) and Torch Song Trilogy (1988). We do get good ones like The Big Gay Musical (2009), Do Comeco Ao Fim (2010) and I Love You Phillip Morris (2009), and of course, Brokeback Mountain (2005). Scud's Amphetamine is definitely better than some crap B-grade gay film production from America and Philippine lately, but still...

One has to admire Scud's ability to produce a movie of beautiful artistry. There were much to admire from the cinematography as well as the editing, although I had to question the necessary of 'flashing here and there' of the movie plots. The sceneries were breath-taking and he made us cared for the characters.

I cannot help but to categorise Amphetamine to the same level as Lan Yu (2001) and Bishonen (1998), as well as Scud's own PR. Amphetamine is a recycled movie of Permanent Residence. Scud is unable to produce films of a different challenge. I am beginning to wonder if Scud is capable of not following the old trick of the directors in portraying tragic in love affairs of gays. Scud is incapable of happy ending and he is not capable of showing guys in passionate love setting. There was nothing much in PR except for hugs in showers and in bed, which was repeated in Amphetamine. But when it came to the male-female relationship, Scud had no trouble to show the body movements involved.

I feared much when the movie progressed as I was afraid of PR's tragic movie-ending spoiler - and ending that made no sense to the audience or had no commercial attraction to invite repetitive watching. I hated being right. Before the moment where Kafka was stripped by guests in a normal party, which was really freaky weird, I knew the movie was going downhill. I did not believe that plot. Neither was I believing Daniel would be so drunken, he would look so pretty lying down on the floor with a bottle beside him, that spilled no champagne. I mean, instead of protecting Kafka from his crazy invited (many) guests, Daniel went drunk. Stupid.

The ending was more like Scud was trying to get into the 'hm... I wonder what did Scud try to convey by the abstract scenes'. I was more like 'hm.. I did not give a shit, the movie was again another half-failure.' Half failure? This is the kind of movie when one should play for the first half of the film, where things still make sense, just like in PR. After that, one should just switched off the film because the director made a mess.

Despite of all I had said, I still have to admire a better than average production of a gay themed film from Scud. I still hope to see a film that can stand out there to challenge wonderful gay themed films such No Regret (2006), Jeffrey (1995) and Reine Geschmacksache (2007).


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