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Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Legally Declared Dead’

September 3, 2020Ben MK

In the insurance business, everything comes down to numbers. Yet, as we see in the suspense thriller Legally Declared Dead, calculating a client's insurance premiums is nothing compared to having to contend with a cold-blooded and calculating killer.

Written and directed by Yuen Kim-Wai, the story follows Yip Wing-shun (Carlos Chan), an overworked insurance broker who already has his hands full dealing with criminals trying to con his employer by making false claims. But no matter how dangerous dealing with gangland thugs may seem, it's Wing-shun's next case — a life insurance claim for a young boy named Kafu — that may prove to be his most challenging. Determine to do his due diligence, Wing-shun cautiously begins to conduct his own investigation into Kafu's death and the circumstances surrounding the relationship between the boy's mother, Chi-ling (Karena Lam), and stepfather, Chung-tak (Anthony Wong). As he does so, though, his unraveling of the case's oddities and inconsistencies begin to put not only his own life in jeopardy, but also that of his girlfriend, Wai-yee (Kathy Yuen), and everyone close to him.

A classic whodunit bolstered by some compelling performances and a brooding atmosphere, Legally Declared Dead's only faux pas is its attempt to milk its shocking twist for all it's worth. Otherwise, this is one noteworthy murder mystery that proves quite chilling indeed.

Legally Declared Dead makes its North American premiere at the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 49 min.

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