Malaysia / 14 minutes / color with some bw / D1 Productions, Moving Pictures Dir & Scr & Cine: Dick Chua Pr: Aik Sern Ng, Stephen Chong Cast: Ke Feng Lum, Pei Xuan, Jia Yen Wong, Melvin Koh, Shan Fei Lim, Yoke Lan Lee
An odd, enigmatic short made by an alumnus of The One Academy in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: “Malaysia’s Leading Art & Design College.” I suspect that some of the cast were the director’s fellow-students, since I’ve been unable to track down any further appearances by them. I’ve also, since the movie’s credits are skimpy, been unable to ascertain who played which character. Please bear with me as I emit vagueness in all directions.
We see a lovely young woman, Ling, receive a text message from, we assume, her boyfriend inviting her to dinner: he’s created a special new fish recipe he thinks she’ll like.
We also see a much older, almost thuggish man preparing a bizarre-looking fish and accompanying vegetables in a filthy kitchen, his attention all the while distracted by a showing of The Shining (1980) on television. Although the exchanges of text messages would seem to make it patent that this is the “boyfriend” whom Ling is coming to visit, it’s almost impossible to reconcile the attractive, sensitive-seeming girl, perhaps still in her teens, with the brutish man who’s easily old enough to be her father. Did we get the relationship wrong?
But then the chef slips in some spilled oil and gashes himself, we guess fatally, in the throat as he falls. An older woman comes to weep over him.
Ling reaches her destination, to be greeted by a young man—the boyfriend we at first assumed she was coming to meet. Although his kitchen isn’t nearly so filthy—quite spick, in fact—clearly his culinary preparations have largely matched those we saw the older man engaged in.
So what are we to speculate could be going on here? My own supposition is that the older couple are the “real” people, the here-and-now versions of the characters, but see themselves as the younger couple (or perhaps are remembering themselves as such, or maybe it’s that odd way of thinking we all have that lies somewhere in between those two—like middle-aged men thinking they’re the young studs they might once have been). There’s a moment early on that’d seem to back up this hypothesis. The older man is making his way home with the fish he’s bought for supper when his eye is caught by a pretty girl in the street. That girl would seem to be Ling. Is he equating this stranger with his wife when she was that age, thereafter mentally creating a sort of parallel version of the evening?
Or is there another explanation entirely? And where does the slob who apparently wants to eat a raw goldfish fit in?
If you have any better explanation than I do, please post it in the comments below. The movie proper is only about twelve minutes long—the rest of its running time, after the closing credits, is taken up by a sort of making of/outtakes melange.
You can watch The Bloody Fish on YouTube or, in what seems a slightly better-resolution version, here. Director Dick Chua has his own YouTube channel, where you can find his short movies (among other stuff).