Pang Brothers Re-Cycle (Gwai-wik) Review

This is perhaps one of the most complicated, highly developed narrative both cunning and inquisitive. I believe that it's also one of the most misunderstood films, because the concept of re-cycle is very traditional to Japanese culture and almost alien to North American audiences.

Directed by the Pang Brothers, Re-Cycle employs traditional horror sequences, fantastical environment, and dynamic philosophical inquiries that are evident in asian cultures. A struggling writer and lead character, Tsui Ting-Yin, finds herself in a world that she's created, unknown to her that it's also an amalgamation of everyone's discarded thoughts, not only Ting-Yin's. We are reminded that it's everyone's discarded, abandoned world at the same time as Ting-Yin realizes. What does it mean? Simple: we don't really know!

The film centers around the concept of a return, a return to the end, a return to the beginning. This means that the end and the beginning are the same, but this re-cycle that occurs also in the spiritual world also occurs in the living. This is hard to understand if you haven't seen the movie yet, but you'll know what it means shortly after.

Central to the theme is the concept of the forgotten: the aborted babies, the forgotten graves that are no longer visited and worshipped, the deaths of thousands that are unnamed and unknown. The spiritual world is changing, morphing on a regular basis. You could consider it being renewed, eroded.

This return to the beginning is the most puzzling part that I just can't seem to get a grip on. Is the living world constantly experiencing the same issues as the spiritual world? The spiritual world isn't what I had imagined and, similarly, the problems of life and death (renewal and erosion) are played out more aggressively, violently.

Watch the movie, it's real damn good! I'll give this a 4/5, partly because of the slightly confusing and open ending that makes you wonder: what did I just watch?



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