Monthly Archives: September 2008

Up Next: Death Race

Sometimes your best laid plans fall apart. The other night I found myself in front of the movie theater having just missed the starting times of two other movies I wanted to see. The only alternative was Death Race.

And so Death Race will be the next review. I’ll post it this Tuesday.

Review: So Close

soclose_cov.jpgOriginal Title: Chik yeung tin si
Year: 2002
Director: Corey Yuen
Starring: Qi Shu, Wei Zhao, Karen Mok, Seung-heon Song
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 63

Plot
Two women seek revenge on the their fathers’ killers.

Quick Review
So Close comes, well, so close to being a great action film. We’ve got all the critical elements: creative, fast action sequences; beautiful women and handsome men; and a decent story. But the wildly implausible use of technology and an overall lack of concern with premise hold this film back from excellence.

Full Review
Let’s cut to the chase: So Close is worth watching for its fighting, and you may even get mildly interested in the simple, effective story of two sisters trying to extract revenge on their parents’ so_close_4.jpgkillers. But the strength of this film is the creative martial arts fighting. Director Corey Yuen shows off his talent here, as he has the three women stars (Qi Shu, Wei Zhao, and Karen Mok) battling each other and waves of nameless enemies throughout the movie. The film also tosses in ample shootouts and even a generic car chase, but the martial arts element of the film makes the action memorable. The pace is fast, yet we’ve got a good use of camera angles and slow motion to keep things clear. At times the believability of the fighting gets stretched well beyond reason, but on the whole this is forgivable.

The film revolves around its three female stars, and they all do an outstanding job in the physical element of their roles. Their male counterparts do an equally effective job in their fighting so_close_6.jpgsequences. It doesn’t hurt that all three women are very easy on the eyes. Qi Shu (Lynn) is a stunning actress, Wei Zhao (Sue) is well above average, and Karen Mok (Officer Hong Yat Hong) puts on a feisty performance. Their male counterparts are a cut below them in terms of looks, but Seung-heon Song and Yasuaki Kurata drive the hunk rating well up. If you like eye candy in your movies, you’ll love this film.

Unlike Dead or Alive, the other Yuen movie I recently reviewed, So Close comes with a decent story. The general plot of revenge works well, and the twist in the middle caught me completely off guard. There is even an occasional bit of depth to the story. The three women act well enough, with Karen Mok deserving a special note for her fantastic job in playing the role of a brilliant detective. (Some of the villains’ acting, however, is atrocious.) Pacing is good, with the exception of some scenes that drag in the middle of the film. The final battle is riveting, and the film comes to a satisfying end.

So far, so good, but unfortunately So Close struggles in some important ways. Although the story so_close_8.jpgworks to move the film along, the devil is in the details, and in the details So Close starts to drift away. First of all, I am hard pressed to think of a film that uses technology in such a wildly unbelievable way. So Close makes Live Free or Die Hard look like a technological masterpiece. You know right from the start that you’re in trouble when the movie kicks off with a computer room getting hacked by a virus that causes sparks to come shooting out of all the computers. This is followed by a message that comes on screen saying that everything is okay, at which point the staff in the room starts cheering wildly. Sigh. And a key element to the story is that the sisters’ father has developed a program that allows one to access and control any security camera in the world from outer space. And things get worse from there. With the greatest ease, our heroes can create digital models, import them into a building’s security system, and have them run around and fool surveillance teams. Sigh. I could go on, but you get the point.

The execution of the film also suffers from all the problems that have plagued action films. Everyone runs out of guns and bullets at the same time to segue into a wild martial arts fight. so_close_7.jpgDespite some brilliantly choreographed fights, at times waves of enemies appear out of nowhere, only to blindly rush forward and get themselves killed. “Here I am! Shoot me!” And things just happen much too easily in the film. People find each other with amazing ease and run into each other as if there were only a dozen people in the entire sprawling city. Police cars show up in droves for a car chase, but no police show up for some incredibly noisy urban shootouts. It’s all too convenient, and this laissez-faire attention to credibility drags the effectiveness of the film down.

In the end, however, the fast action and generally effective story manage to overcome these problems. Despite shaking my head at some of the problems, the film managed to draw me in and entertain me. Worth watching.

Score
Pace: 70
Plot: 58
Action: 77
Consistent Premise: 21
Script/Quotes: 31
Characters: 72
Acting: 50
Villain: 57
Body Count: 80
Time to First Dead Body: Not sure
Babes: 86
Hunks: 76
Explosions: 30
Special Effects: 41
Stunts: 88
Ending: 83

Overall: 63

[tags]So Close, Chik yeung tin si, action movie, movie review, Corey Yuen, Qi Shu, Wei Zhao, Karen Mok, Seung-heon Song[/tags]