For New Zealand, I chose Do No Harm, a 12 minute short written and directed by Roseanne Liang, which made a strong impression on me at The Sundance Film Festival in 2017. I’m venturing outside of strict horror and into the realm of action/martial arts thrillers, but that subset of horror fans known as “gore hounds” could find some satisfaction in this terrific story.
Do No Harm (2017)
Director & Writer: Roseanne Liang
Notable Cast: Marsha Yuan, Jacob Tomuri, David T. Lim, Emily Tham
Plot: 3am. 1980s Hongjing. In an aging private hospital, a single-minded surgeon is forced to break her physician’s oath when violent gangsters storm in to stop a crucial operation. (Source: Official website)
Commentary: In twelve minutes, this short gave us an adrenaline shot featuring a surgeon and mother with mad martial arts skills who takes her Hippocratic Oath very seriously. Her patient is a crime boss that, as revealed later, has a powerful hold on her. But we don’t learn this as the action unfolds in the surgery room where she must both fight off the gangsters coming for her patient, and continue her life saving surgery.
And fight them she does in a dazzling, well executed sequence that tells you this doctor is more than she seems. Perhaps she is a repentant former assassin who turned to medicine to atone for her past? As The Doctor, Marsha Yuan was able to evoke vulnerability, rage and sadness at what she’s forced to do to uphold her professional oath, and for another vital reason.
No one knows except Liang, and she is seeking to develop this short into a feature length film tentatively called “Black Lotus.” Producers: throw some money at her!
As of this writing you can view Do No Harm on Vimeo.
What We’re Afraid Of: On its official website, Liang states the ideas behind this story, and notably:
The film was inspired by my own complicated relationship with theoretical violence. Since motherhood, I’ve become more aware of my own murderous potential. I harbour dark thoughts, wonder about the lengths to which I would go to protect my children. My desire to make action films is a catharsis of these undignified, visceral emotions.
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