LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD is a thriller from Hong Kong. The movie has an excellent story and great characters. It’s already a box office hit in Hong Kong and after we screened it at Fantasia 2020, we can see why. Full Legally Declared Dead review here!

LEGALLY DECLARED DEAD is a new thriller from Hong Kong. We screened it for Fantasia 2020 and it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

Not that we didn’t expect it to be. We had no idea what to expect really. Usually, we get to watch a few movies from South Korea for film festivals, but this time around we got a movie from Hong Kong that felt on level with our beloved South Korean genre movies.

Continue reading our Legally Declared Dead review below.

A character-driven road to hell

The story in Legally Declared Dead is very character-driven and since it’s based on a Japanese novel, I had no idea what to expect from this Hong Kong production. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve watched many movies from Hong Kong, but if this is the representative of the production quality, then I really should.

We follow a very kind-hearted man (Carlos Chan) who works as an insurance broker. Instead of the usual sales man hustler type, you might expect, he seems to actually care about his customers (or clients, if you will).

However, he does find himself challenged with one specific case, where he does not trust the insurance policy owner (Anthony Wong of White Dragon). A boy has died in an apparent suicide but the reaction of the boy’s father makes him think the boy has been murdered.

This means he also fears for the mother (Karena Lam) of the dead boy. Nothing supports this suspicion and everyone is surprised that he cannot let this idea go. His kind-hearted ways and integrity quickly collide with his need to protect.

It’s a very elegant change that happens in him over the course of some time, but still, it is very obvious to the viewer. As the story progresses and we find out who to trust, it’s a run against the clock and a literal fight for survival.

Legally Declared Dead – Fantasia Review

Legally Declared Dead at Fantasia 2020

This is the second feature film for director Kim-Wai Yuen and I really hope we’ll get the chance to see more from him. I was certainly completely on board from beginning to end. Here at the end of a film festival with screenings of several movies each day, that’s no small feat.

We were able to watch Legally Declared Dead for Fantasia 2020 and you should definitely check it out when you get the chance. Whatever you might expect, this movie delivers on a solid story with impressive performances by the actors and some great twists along the way.

Sure, you might guess some of the plot twists, but that’s fine. Legally Declared Dead is about how the characters react to these surprises more than the actual surprises.

Legally Declared Dead was released in movie theaters in its native Hong Kong in June 2020 where it topped the box office. We screened it at Fantasia 2020.


Writer/Director: Kim-Wai Yuen
Stars: Anthony Wong, Carlos Chan, Karena Lam, Kathy Yuen


A sketchy suicide triggers a righteous insurance broker to plunge into an investigation that puts his life at premium risk. The coroner declared it a suicide, but Mr. Yip is convinced that Mr. Chu may have murdered his own son, in an attempt to collect the insurance money – and his visually impaired wife may be next! During Yip’s search, a barrage of threats greets him, but the real mastermind may have orchestrated something more malicious, and those around him will soon reach critical danger levels.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard