Much like the movie that put them on the map (The Eye), which is currently being re-made for American audiences starring Jessica Alba, the Pang Brothers latest film, Re-Cycle (Gwai wik), deals with human perception, constructs of the mind and issues of life and death. The main character in Re-Cycle is Tsui Ting-Yin (Lee Sin Chet), a romance novelist who has had her first of three novels (based on her own experiences) turned into a movie. She’s at a press conference, enjoying the limelight from it when an old flame shows up, Lawrence (Chou Tsun Wai), the supposed male inspiration for the love interests in her novels. Recently divorced Lawrence wants to get back together with Ting-Yin but Ting-Yin can neither forgive nor forget the past and decides to focus her attention on her writing instead. Ting-Yin’s newest novel, which has yet to be written, deals with the supernatural and is tentatively titled Re-Cycle.
As Ting-Yin begins writing it, she is warmed by reporters at the aforementioned press conference that spooky things have been known to occur when the spirit world is broached and written about for media uses. The events surrounding the productions of The Omen, the Poltergeist films and The Exorcist are real world examples of this and may be what the reporters or the Pang Brothers were alluding to. When Ting-Yin puts pen to paper, segments of what she has written begin appearing in real life. When they do, she writes them down for her book but then dream/fantasy sequences begin happening to her also. She writes them down for Re-Cycle as well. Pieces of paper thrown in the trashcan begin moving all by themselves, baby noises emanate from the phone, all manner of disturbing events begin happening in more and more rapid succession. The escalation of these events continues until Ting-Yin is sucked into an alternate world where the discarded of the real world dwell.
This abstract world is continually ravaged by an energy wave known as the Re-Cycle, which disintegrates anything in its path. This world is the dumping ground of the real world. Books, buildings, toys, landscapes, graves, abortions, all have a place in this world and a part to play in the Pang’s film. Returning to the subject of abortions for a brief moment, it is obvious that the Pangs are given full artistic freedom in regards to film content across the ocean and out of the reach of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Ting-Yin is helped in her quest to return to the real world by an eager eight-year-old girl named Ting-Yu (Qigi Zeig). Ting-Yu goes out of her way to help Ting-Yin, assists and guides her to what may be an exit out of the Re-Cycle world. Paying close attention the film’s first two acts is paramount to understanding and receiving the full impact from the film’s ending. The reality of the ending is what will keep you thinking of the film and of segments of the alternate Re-Cycle world long after the film has ended.