Movie Review: “The Tattooist”

Despite the many negative reviews, I went ahead to catch the movie with no expectations other than anticipation towards the visual feast of beautiful (and most definitely artificial) tattoos. However, the film offered me more than I bargained for.

The plot is no doubt unique, about a suddenly cursed tattoo artist, Jake Sawyer, whose clients start dying in similar horrid fashions after he inks them. The life threatening situation prompts him to delve deep into the ancient Samoan art of Tatau, where the ritual of marking the pe’a on Samoan males hold strong cultural meaning to the tight-knit community.

A dark secret is revealed in the end, exposing the terrible truth to the cause of the sudden deaths.

I shall not reveal too much information that would affect the suspense and mystery of your movie experience, but I will go on to share with you the elements in the movie that impressed me.

First and foremost, the plot is unique, which I have already mentioned earlier. I believe that as frequent movie-goers, we all hope to seek new excitement in the alternate worlds of movie magic. Yet after decades of Hollywood molded movies, too many films have become predictable, taking away the fun of being intrigued by the stories.

“The Tattooist” is definitely a different sort of film that starts out slow by peaking your curiosity, and fully clarifying all the mysteries with a bang at the end. I have watched too many shows that answer the big question or mystery, but have loopholes in the storyline that irk me for days on end. With this film, there is so such issue. Every little detail is well-explained and accounted for by the time the credits start rolling, so you leave feeling satisfied with the entire process and outcome.

But of course, you’d have to pay attention to all the dialogue in order to have all your questions answered. If all else fails, feel free to comment or email me and I will be more than willing explain and/or discuss the film with you in detail. 🙂

Secondly, I appreciate how ample research on the tattooing history was done in the preparation for the film. Throughout the film, you will be educated on the art of Tatau, which is intriguing and informative at the same time. Almost everything you would ever need to know about it is explained in the film, with “live” demonstrations of the process. It is almost like a part documentary!

Next, the special effects are very well done for a non-Hollywood small budget film. There’s not a moment where you would think “Damn, this CGI is so obvious” like how many of us felt when watching the Spiderman series. No doubt, this movie was not meant to be one chockful of special effects, but like most things in life should be, it is done in appropriate moderation. It doesn’t overkill with the dazzling graphics, but holds a good balance of special effects and satisfying plot.

Finally, despite not having any household name cast members, the performance delivered was realistic and captivating. The Samoan people in the show appear as how they would, clad in sarongs and proudly displaying their completed pe’a pieces. The entire atmosphere of the show was unassuming and an insight into the Samoan way of life.

My rating for this film? 9 out of 10 stars. A must watch!

A warning though: Beware of Caroline Cheong’s out-of-place Singapore accented English and the strange sight of Singapore sceneries in a film mainly featuring non-Chinese. :mrgreen: But I would still applaud Miss Cheong’s outstanding performance in her role.


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