3 Days Of A Blind Girl (1993)
by: Chan Wing Chiu
Chan Wing Chiu's 3 Days Of A Blind Girl (a.k.a. Retribution Sight Unseen) has markings of a Category III thriller; a plot that's open to all kinds of nasty torture and the stars Veronica Yip & Anthony Wong. It comes as a surprise then that this "only" got a II when released in Hong Kong and years afterwards, a fair amount of acclaim. This was reportedly Chan Wing Chiu's second and last film as a director (the prior actually being a Cat III rated effort called Emotional Girl - Doubt Of Distress) and his biggest claim to fame outside of 3 Days Of A Blind Girl would have to be an assistant directing gig on Alfred Cheung's Paper Marriage. Seeing as Alfred himself acted in My Americanize Wife, another movie Chan assisted in the directing of, he probably felt comfortable enough to support Chan by producing 3 Days Of A Blind Girl.
After an eye operation, Miss Ng (Veronica Yip) will undergo temporarily blindness for 3 days. Her husband Jack (Anthony Chan), a heart specialist, has to go out of town for this period of time and while the maid is also away, Sam (Anthony Wong) will enter Miss Ng's life. His first visit begins friendly enough and he leaves shortly after. His second reveals something odd and perhaps sinister. His third begins 72 hours of terror...
I almost see 3 Days Of A Blind Girl as a movie absolutely using its Cat II rating to the extreme. There's multiple scenes with content suitable for and that has been seen in Cat III Hong Kong cinema but the strength of our director lies in him conveying the absolute horror of it all without resorting to heavy graphic imagery. There's little bloodshed for the most part, only brief nudity for the male fans but combine Chan Wing Chiu's a sure hand direction, good use of sparse locations, camerawork to bring out that tension and you have a surprise hit from a director that quickly left the scene.
I'm surprised that the movie wasn't at least CatIIb because Chan Wing Chiu delivers some pretty horrific scenes and gritty violence. While clearly shot on a lower budget and not being the best Hong Kong movie out there technically, our director overcomes that hindrance and delivers good suspense. It's a short film so leading up to our first encounter between Miss Ng and Sam doesn't take long and by dropping in hints of his psycho behaviour, Chan doesn't get us on the edge of our seat actually. He instead does that with probably the most frightening scene in the film taking place in a shower where the vulnerability of Miss Ng is at its highest. It all goes to hell from this point but not in a bad way for the film.
The script by So Man Sing doesn't surprise too many times but manages to be not as predictable as you would think. He writes an arc for Miss Ng that is far from what you would call a scream queen. She's actually so vulnerable that she acts rather frozen in fear but can still think clearly. There's one scene that is also Veronica Yip's finest where she finally has her breakdown but has to pick herself up again using her mother's advice given to her at some point in her life previously. This also takes place in one shot which is always admirable. The script does feature some bad guy movie clichés towards the end and the final scene is a terrible tag on, an afterthought that should've been cut from the film. It ends not on a light note but one that just overemphasizes the character-journey in my view. So Man Sing takes Miss Ng through hell and it's inevitable that some sort of monster will awake in her even in the midst of all this. Not necessarily through the terror inflicted on her but rather the truths revealed along the way. The script certainly doesn't make Sam sympathetic however. He's a pure sadist but does have reasons for what he's doing. The manner in which he takes out his anger, frustration and revenge obviously isn't valid though.
While the Category III genre has been purposely exploitative, that trait has been there for story purposes to a degree. However, mainly in the first half of 3 Days Of A Blind Girl, it feels like director Chan Wing Chiu is at certain moment shooting angles of Veronica Yip just so the male audiences can turn on the drool. There's nothing wrong with showcasing Yip as she is a very beautiful woman but the director is very much giving away a hidden agenda here. Some events that occur seems to play fast and loose with time also. In particular how quickly Sam has prepared the special dinner for Miss Ng, also one of the most horrible scenes in the film.
Director of photography Tam Chi Wai (C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri) uses a very natural palette and even creates some of the darker moments in pure daylight while also doing good work for the night scenes. All without resorting to the all the common overuse of colour choices such as blue or green.
The strength that 3 Days Of A Blind Girl in the end generates comes not only from the crew's work but certainly from the main cast as well. Veronica Yip, later to turn in a good performance in another almost Cat III like flick called Scarred Memory, is quite believable in her role. As mentioned, she's not the classic scream queen at all and manages to inject power into her character even if she's left helpless for most of the time. Anthony Wong have created a few distinct psycho characters on screen and this ranks as probably the most memorable alongside his nasty, dirty turn in Ebola Syndrome. Sam is first a bit of a buffoon but soon switches into the methodic, sadist character that he's become after harm was done to him. On the other hand, I feel those sides to him probably were there before, they were just triggered by key events that you'll come to know about during the course of the film.
Chan Wing Chiu has basically done a Cat III film but within the Cat II range, which is a brave and challenging choice. His simple tale has not the greatest depth but surprises at times on a script level while the leads puts in strong performances. It is true that the Cat II stamp can mean disturbing viewing and 3 Days Of A Blind Girl has at heart a very grim tone. Those looking for these efforts in Hong Kong cinema may find a new, small favourite with this film.
Deltamac presents the film in its original 1.85.1 aspect ratio. Print damage is light and colours are unexpectedly good. Day scenes are a bit too bright and black levels could've been better though. A few shots look grainy but I do believe that is due to slow motion being created in post-production on shots taken at 24 frames per second. You see that a lot in Hong Kong movies.
The Cantonese 2.0 Dolby Digital track does the job and sounds adequate for a film from 1993. A Mandarin 2.0 track is also included.
The English subtitles comes with a few errors and strangely structured sentences. That's a minor complaint and most of the time they remain error free. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. Only extra is the trailer for the feature at hand.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson