Rain Dogs (Ho Yuhang, 2006) May 25, 2009Posted by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films.
Malaysian Title: Taiyang Yu
Directed by Ho Yuhang
Cast: Liu Wai Hung, Kuan Choon Wai, Cheung Wing Hong
The poster for Rain Dogs somewhat prepares you to a film that involves gruesome fights. It shows five men posing for the camera, with the two on the left bearing dirt marks on their clothes and faces. Though it misleads, it does not actually disappoint. Rain Dogs, like the Tom Waits’ album that it automatically brings to mind, is melancholic to the bone. The atmosphere is charged with waywardness, sometimes bleak, sometimes beautiful, sometimes pretty indulgent with little reward of narrative push, but the intention more or less is to present its dispossessed main character through his inaction. Tung, coming from the town to visit his brother in the city, is not only shown alienated from his environment but also from the people around him, his mother, his brother, his aunt and uncle, his cousin, and his cousin’s friends. His brother’s death only makes him more estranged to the world; he is at the phase of his life when he starts to discover things on his own, to feel things without the guidance of an adult. Ho Yuhang has chosen to substantiate his film in the periphery instead of attacking it through rising action, that’s why we always see shots of the Malaysian countryside, the clouds, the trees, and the greenery of a landscape every time a sequence ends. He is able to make these elements work with the aimlessness of his main character, providing a distinct tempo to his listlessness. Not only its characters are aimless, the film itself also doesn’t know where it is going. From start to finish, it still explores the story it wants to tell. But that is the joy of seeing it for the first time: the trying despite the possibility of failure, the youthfulness, the willingness to experiment. In one scene, Tung says that he had slept for ages but it felt like he hadn’t got any sleep at all. That’s how it feels after watching Rain Dogs. It leaves you in limbo.