Do No Harm (Hippocratic Slaughter Oath)


God this is such a great film. I knew it was going to be, there was no way a doctor standing with a depressed glare at the camera, covered in blood whilst holding a scalpel, was going to be anything but graphic (and thus very good). That stare got me sold. But what sold me more was the hypothetical “would I though?” statement Do No Harm makes, using the Hippocratic oath as its main vehicle to absolute destruction of the human body through vicious mother power.


Do No Harm is the genius work of New Zealander Roseanne Liang, who currently is generally under the underground radar outside of film freak circles (this site is one of the few exceptions). That seems to have all changed with this film (actually I’m a liar I didn’t know about her until I watched it), a short that combines all the delicacy of Asian poetry with the dark, visceral action fans of Hong Kong and Taiwanese shock and shlock will thoroughly enjoy, except its exceptionally polished. Plus it’s a precursor to a feature-length she’s working on called Black Lotus that, if this short is any indication, will crush.


The plot of Do No Harm involves an unnamed surgeon in the 1980s who is working to save the life of an unnamed and not-so-liked patient, which is obvious when she is interrupted by members of some gang or mob organization who storm in the operating room to kill her staff and threaten her in order to kill their target. The surgeon, however, has an unethical code to uphold, constantly repeating “He is my patient” before mutilating her foes. After nearly being strangled with a foot to her throat, she turns it around and you soon learn why she was so attached to her Hippocratic killing oath at the risk of the lives, including her own. I won’t spoil it entirely, because it’s short enough to consume and figure out without saving a whole evening for it, so do that now, by watching it above, because my pathetic attempts at not spoiling anything are most certainly going to spoil everything. It still rules even if I blow it, but your choice.


Do No Harm manages to capture a spectacular meaning through its rapid plot development and extreme gore. There is meaning in that? Yes, namely: will you kill to protect something you love? I cannot reveal exactly what “something” means, suffice to say no your dog-child is not an actual child, but if that’s what you define as love okay. I mean if you’d kill for your dog you basically got it, but it’s a little different when it’s a part of you and formed in your womb (or you had something to do with that and just stared for the rest of it). Liang herself explains the “feminine savagery” of Do No Harm as stemming from her own experience in motherhood where she became “more aware of [her] murderous potential.” As a parent myself, I can tell you, I would do a lot of harm to anyone who touched my child in such a way that it would warrant me breaking all moral codes in human existence. And as a parent, let me state clearly, that pretty much is any form of touching including a friendly hug. So try it. Cause I’ll do like the surgeon.


Roseanne Liang Official Vimeo

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

Do No Harm (2018)
Roseanne Liang (director), Various Team members (production)
4.8 / 5