Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Tattooist (2007)

"So, can you really tattoo all the lyrics to Johnny Cash's Ring Of Fire around my anus?"

At a glance:
Remember this ambitious project that even had Singaporean premier Lee Hsien Loong at its Auckland launch with his then NZ counterpart Helen Clark? It was supposed to be the start of a sexy new Singapore-New Zealand deal for Eyeworks Touchdown and Mediacorp Raintree. Two pictures were announced, this Samoan-inspired yarn and next up was Altar, about an Asian child embryo ghost. I don't think it got that far.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Jason Behr & Mia Blake.
Local lad Peter Burger shot The Tattooist with only a few TV dramas to his directorial credit, while the boys who brought us Black Sheep (2006) wrote the story. I like tattoos, so one would think that fanboy enthusiasm would've added more spice to this story about an American guy who visits a tattoo expo in Singapore and steals a Samoan tattooin tool en route to New Zealand to learn more about the craft. Complete with possession, spirits, sex and Samoan rituals, the movie looks like a special interest winner on paper. However, onscreen it all goes pear-shaped. The audience cannot help but feel shortchanged when a horror movie is as half-hearted as this. The gore is substandard, the spooks are recycled and the sex isn’t even there. As far as special effects are concerned, there is nothing original about the movie. If anythin, the inked demon in The Tattooist looks inferior to the oiled demon in Orang Minyak (2007)!
Caroline Cheong doin her best impression of a CFM face.
Caroline Cheong appeared in this
movie and then slipped into oblivion.
Perennial wonderment:
Seems Jason Behr is incapable of appearin in a good movie. Malaysians who saw him last in B-grade vampire flick Skinwalkers (2006) would know what I mean. It was also a good thing that distributors put the plug on his D-War (2007) before the universally rubbished fantasy effort made its way to Malaysian screens. His two-tone face of stone has been stretched enough to feign the talent that he hasn’t got; and it's still lookin as bad as ever if you check out his CV on IMDb.
Reminds me of:
A New Zealand movie called The Ferryman (2007) but that was actually spooky.
"Err... Your twitching anus
is making it smudge."
Watch out for:
Caroline Cheong who used to play Lynette Khoo on Singaporean TV's popular Phua Chu Kang. What is she up to these days? Also, there's Mia Blake’s character, someone related to a gang of Samoans who hates any palagi (white man?) who wants to “get down with the brown”.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
The Tattooist has one advantage – it gives an insight into little-filmed New Zealand subculture. There seems to be a genuine attempt to get the details culturally correct and that lends a somewhat authentic feel to the movie. However, if you’re into hard-hittin stuff, you wouldn’t feel left out if you gave this a miss. Two and a half stars.

Trailer for the curious: