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Title: Inivitation Only

Country: Taiwan

Year: 2009

Box Office:

Director: Kevin Ko

Producer: Michelle Yeh

Writer: Sung In, Carolyn Lin

Starring: Bryant Chang, Jerry Huang, Maria Ozawa, Julianne, Ma Kuo-Hsien, He Chia-Wen, Kristian Brodie

Genre: Slasher/Thriller


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A Surprisingly brutal and good slasher flick…

Known as Taiwanese first venture into the slasher genre arena, Invitation Only does not have the looks or the hype of a good movie. Just one look on the casting list, which includes Japanese AV superstar Maria Ozawa, the movie did not oozes or echoes any signs of a good quality production. That is why it is all the more surprising for me to unfold this brutal, slashing, unforgivable, but most importantly of all, it actually manages to be an interestingly good and entertaining film. Fans of Maria Ozawa be warned; she is in the film for nothing more than a glorify cameo to strip down, have sex and sell a couple more movie tickets. In fact, this is actually a good thing, as the film just gets better and better the moment the Euro-Japanese decided to roam back to her AV industry.

The movie goes like this: Byrant Chang of Summer Tail and Eternal Summer fame plays a working class, high school drop-out who works as a driver for a rich business man. One day, Chang caught his boss having sex with a magazine model (played by Maria Ozawa, the star of numerous genre flicks), and in the process Chang is given an exclusive ticket to a higher class party event. At the party, he meets a fellow newcomer (played by Julianne Chu) and together they will realize that the party is not really what they think it will be.

The film basically works because it is able to sustain a certain amount of audience attention. Whether the reason for captivating my attention is to find out what will happen next to the beautiful Julianne Chu or how many pieces the next person will be chopped, the fact is that it got my attention. For that the film does extremely well and more surprisingly is that usually these kinds of movies (i.e. Saw series or Hostel series) possesses underlying bad acting, but here, newcomer Julianne Chu steals the show, the spotlight and perhaps opening up an opportunity for herself and a promising career ahead.

Byrant Chang who is usually a capable enough actor manages to disappoint big time. After some credible displays in the likes of Eternal Summer, here, Chang is lost and quite frankly confused. At times, he seems to be acting and at other times, he is simply overacting. In a way, his ambivalent towards Maria Ozawa works to a certain degree, but luckily, while Chang adds nothing to the movie, but in no way did he manage to ruin it either.

Moving on to the best thing in the film itself is the underrated performance of Taiwanese newcomer, Julianne Chu. Julianne showed the audience a kind of performance that would make any newcomer proud and also forward a statement to Ozawa that you do not always have to strip down and bang something to be hot. Sure, Ozawa oozes the screen with some degree of hotness and probably the main reason why the majority of audience decides to take a crack at this film. Julianne is certainly someone to watch for years to come and her convincing display made this film better than it should be. Perhaps, focusing more on Julianne rather than Byrant Chang would have elevated the film just that a tad better.

As with most readers here, they are probably interested in how Maria Ozawa fares, not bad is what I can say, but for a "used up" actress like Ozawa, there is really next to no excitement with or without her involvement in my honest opinion. In fact, her presence seems a little out of place in the film, but then again, if she can sell a few extra tickets with just 5 minutes of screen time, then why not?

All in all, Invitation Only basically succeeds in all its goals and ambitions. The goal is to make a good and sustainable slasher flick, the ambition is to shock and maintain the audience attention. The fact that the film is actually brutal enough to satisfy me (I am quite demanding in genres like these), then it must be a good thing after all. Still, without ignoring the numerous plot holes, Invitation Only works well as a whole and most certainly have plenty of moments in shock, brute, fun and quite simply, mindless entertainment. With all being said, Invitation Only is really designated for particular genre fans only and if you look at the film from that perspective, the film have plenty to slash about and with my new muse on the run in Julianne Chu, the film easily passes the grade … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 6.5/10

>> Comment on this movie at the HK Neo Reviews Forum

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