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September 2010

Invitation Only

cast: Bryant Chang, Maria Ozawa, Jerry Huang, Vivi Ho, and Kao Yin-hsuan

director: Kevin Ko

95 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by Paul Higson

Invitation Only

Oh, for Christ's sake! Here we go again. The bored rich are killing the poor. But where once they would probably take them to a remote location, give them a head start and then lock and load, now that we are in 2010 the wealthy put on a show for their peers and it's a torture cabaret. Invitation Only (aka: Jue ming pai dui) director, Kevin Ho, was no doubt chuffed about his angle but the film is no more than a mean jumble of valueless action.

Wade Chan (Bryant Chang) is chauffeur to Mr Yang (Jerry Huang), president of the mighty Weida Corporation, and happens to look up one day from the centrefold of his men's magazine to see the girl of his lust, sans staples, approaching him. There is a brief exchange with the cute model (performed by porn star Maria Ozawa) who he is still dreaming about when he next stumbles into her being seen to by his boss in the back seat of his car. Mr Yang later rewards him for this coitus interruptus with a ticket to an event he cannot attend, a millionaires' only bash at which he is given permission to take on the fictional role of Yang's cousin.

The ticket reads "write down your wildest dreams" by way of RSVP, and he finds himself in the company of several other newbies highlighted by the host, the famous American entrepreneur Warren (Kristian Brodie) to the crowd. They include the attractive Holly Ho (Vivi Ho) from the Golden Palace hotel group. The newbies celebrate, plied with good food and free chips for the roulette table, then at the end of the evening are granted their wishes whether it be a unique piano or a top of the range sports car.

But the gold soon turns back into shit and, at the apogee of their wish fulfilment; they find themselves staring up at a screen where their true personae are revealed. Each has been the recipient of a dream ticket on the whim of a wealthy other. The talented pianist is a poorly paid piano teacher who belittles a young charge whose wealthy parents have clearly nominated him, another is a nurse who thieves from a dying patient, and the grand member of the legislative assembly is no more than a lowly gangster who has disappointed his boss. Holly is caught on camera blagging a hotel room for free, and Wade, we know, has done nothing more than walk in on his boss having sex, though it is likely that the girl was to be the original victim and, as a witness to her sexual liaison with Mr Yang, has led to his impromptu addition to the guest list of victims.

The pianist has already been ripped to bits and the centrefold model, sent in to satisfy Wade, is next, even though, unlike the others, with her high profile she would surely be missed. When Mr Lin, the fake member of the Legislative Assembly, is captured he is wheeled out in front of the audience and tortured, a high voltage of electricity sent through his crotch. The rich revel in the horror, and the intended victims have to think clever to escape death. It is a black and white heroes and villains show and of course, Mr Yang is one of the ring-leaders.

The film is subtitled but occasionally slips into English for Warren or undisclosed reasons. When it does slip into English it is uncomfortable and awkward, spoken by the eastern stars as if they had never met the words before. The story is crass and utter nonsense, and the structure cumbersome. The torture scenes are nasty and pointless, while its other gory shenanigans are clod-hoppingly set-up and absent of thrills or tension. The general shoddiness deters one from becoming too involved in a story that is already unattractive.

Though Invitation Only has some plotting, unlike other more straight to business torture porn, it is still a poor show. Though not committed to seeing all horror films released I increasingly happen upon many that seem to have something significant to offer and worthy of a DVD release. It is therefore of no surprise that drawn out torture is an indicator in films that bad filmmakers are increasingly going to factor in to steal them that release. The classification of torture porn is useful as it does currently represent the worst written if not entirely plot-less, and unimaginative, pointless and boring of horror films inflicted upon us today. Invitation Only came to me by way of a review unlucky dip and once again proves the case to be correct: torture porn almost to a film promotes random rubbish.



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