New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘The Looming Storm’

New York Asian Film Festival ’18: Our Review of ‘The Looming Storm’

In 1997, Yu Guowei (Duan Yihong) is a model factory worker. He fashions himself as an armchair detective when a serial killer hits a Southern Chinese town. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not he’s an effective protagonist but he passes.

This particular serial killer is active during one of the rainiest seasons China has ever experienced. Rain isn’t good at keeping evidence. He wants to help the police out and a chief (Du Yuan) keeps giving him mixed signals in doing so.

I do appreciate the cultural and period specificity here. There’s a subplot involving Yu meeting a woman, Yanzi (Jiang Yiyun) who might help him solve the case. Dong Yue’s film eventually fleshes out her dreams that resemble the dreams of young Chinese people.

Yanzi is a ten cents a dance woman who has dreams of becoming a hairdresser in Hong Kong. She tells him about another man who creeps her out in one of her former dance halls. He thinks this is the man who’s responsible.

The plot happening during rainy season has a lot of potential in bringing a noirish mood to the proceedings. The only thing is that there are scenes when Yu chases a man who seems suspect. And The Looming Storm draws those scenes out.

It turns out, as it would, that Yu is also hiding something from Yanzi. It effectively adds to The Looming Storm‘s mood, coming in at a time that it should. But it’s also possibly the vaguest reveal I’ve seen in recent memory.

That said, this is an interesting depiction of Chinese life set within a genre film. What’s also compelling about Yu is that he’s a symbol and an individual with flaws. We watch him because we want to know whether his actions have consequences.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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