Conspiracy (HK 2000)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/4/06
Director: Sam Ho
Cast: Bessie Chan, Sophie Ngan, Rainy Chan, Michael Tse

Maggie To's boyfriend Andy (Michael Tse) is coming home from a trip to Thailand, but their reunion isn't a happy one. Andy is deeply troubled by something and Maggie suspects him of cheating on her after seeing a mysterious woman approach him at the airport. The stress of the situation causes Maggie to start sleepwalking with a butcher knife in her hand, and people begin showing up dead. Both Maggie and Andy are prime suspects, but they're both merely pawns in a larger game being played by the rich and manipulative Sharon Li (venomous Sophie Ngan).

Based on the rather racy box art, the film promotes itself as a sleazy Category III erotic thriller along the lines of "Naked Killer" (1992), but in fact the film is surprisingly tame. Sex, violence, and nudity are coyishly suggested rather than gratuitous, and the film's greatest strength lies in the tension and suspense created by the three leading ladies. While Maggie is just a typical pretty girl, Bessie Chan fills the role superbly. Sophie Ngan tackles the sinister role of Sharon Li with aggressively seductive charms, and Rainy Chan (?) adds a touch of class and sophistication with her thoughtful portrayal of a police detective who's investigating the murders. A martial arts director is prominently listed in the opening credits, but there is precious little fighting in the film and it's not particularly noteworthy. Like so many thrillers of this genre, the climax and resolution comes out of nowhere and makes absolutely no sense. The film chooses to keep the audience guessing by means of confusion and logic holes, rather than tight scripting. The pacing can also be challenging at times, but it's appropriate for the material. An enjoyable, if unremarkable outing.