Guilt By Design 催眠·裁決 (2019) - Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
There is a lot to like and appreciate about the latest trio of directors’ (Lau Wing-Tai, Kenneth Lai and Paul Sze) efforts. Guilt By Design” is extremely well crafted psychological courtroom action thriller that engages you from start to the almost too sensationalised and over the top “Jackie Chan’s style” finale. Nick Cheung excels in the role of a professional hypnotist appointed to be a juror in a criminal trial. It helps when the premises of the film remain fresh as we enjoy how Cheung goes about manipulating each juror with his own daughter kidnapped and at stakes. It’s a tense film that keeps the audience guessing for the next thing to happen.
Nick Cheung takes the title role as the former famous hypnotist who have the unique ability to hypnotise you without you even knowing about it. This creates a fascinating premises for the film to stage most of the affairs within the confines of a jury room in courthouse. Babyjohn steals the show as the good hearted jury member and Kent Cheng provides a steady fast presence as jury leader. Elaine Jin is always a consistent performance, while the much missed Jo Koo fights her own conflict of interest of going potentially bankrupt within her shares invested in the company mixed with the criminal proceedings. Cecilia So is lovely as the straight forward wheel chair bounded young jury and popular mainland actor Zhang Han shows he can kick and spin like a younger Jackie Chan on a rampage.
All in all, “Guilt By Design” is largely entertaining and provides a different feel and look for a successful local psychological thriller with added dosage of action scenes in between. Whilst the action scene seems to be tagged along from another movie altogether, the film’s main story and premises are well structured and provide an excellent backdrop for keeping the audience interested and excited throughout. It may not be much for some, but this is a good Hong Kong film experience.
I rated it 8/10