Friday, 19 October 2012

The Four - a mixture of something...

Significant portions of my days now are being taken by sleeping, eating and watching movies, however due to the fact that I'm a father of a 4 years old daughter, these movies are far from the martial arts universe (well, except Ninja in the Dragon's den, Kung Fu Hustle & Drunken Master), therefore I wasn't much present here to write something really inspiring. But after watching the last movie I thought to break my stiffness and deliver another review in style. Now I'm boasting myself, but that's only temporary event. So how come the title suggest one thing and in reality is happened to be another? Answers follow up - please feel free to read.

The title probably reveals it all, but to me it was holding some mistery and interest, and again on trailer level was holding a specific charm, which even I can not describe at the moment. Maybe later. If I have to be brief in explaining the movie in two words only - odd movie. But as I'm not writing a column in some newspaper dedicated to the movies this week, I'll be more detailed and will try to explain the feelings which rose iside me while watching it. In general the story is about a special investigating department assigned by the Emperor, which investigates (naturally) cases with very high importance to the Royal Court - on this ocassion we have fake money printing (or crafted). The beginning was quite interesting, where we see the main characters and their special powers on display, although some of them revealed more complex personality throughout the entire development of the plot.

Why does the bad guys always wear the best garments?
We have one character who can command various objects to float in the air, another who can make really firm grip with his hands, a third who is into deep defence and utilise a sort of Shell/Protect enchantment (such as one of the later spells in FFX) when fighting. A fourth is like morphing itself into somethign resembling a wolf or hyena (it was hard to tell form the dark angle) and goes Berserk when attacked. The other two with powers are the chief of the department, which powers are never fully shown on a big scale (probably he is quite modest and shy guy) and the other is the main bad guy, who is a refrigerator and an oven at the same time - interesting combination, which could find application in any big Tesco, Wallmart or Carrefour.

All bow before the Emperial power - you show them Mr. Wong!
 Apparently the bad guy is plotting something quite evil and the initial plan of making fake money is a screen for his master consipration which include an army of undead people. Mr. Vampire to the rescue! It was interesting to see the way these moving bodies work, and it made me feel nostalgic when I saw the needles stuck in their skulls, which was first shown to me when I was watching Magic Cop with the late great Lam Ching Ying. The scene in the hospital where our heroes were fighting a moving body with bodybuilding structure was both hillarious and entertaining. But let's not dwell on the past, but examine the present as there is another movie with similar twists laying in front of me. But it was still a nice touch though. To some of the scenes there were a faint steam punk flavour, although it was strange for me how in the ancient China one could have made a battery for wheelchair, but I guess it's part of the whole special powers agenda here.

Nice colours and flashy effects are in place.
 The whole action was passing pretty quickly in fornt of my eyes and I thought it was a bit rushed at some point, I do not know why, just the thing were happening way to quickly and all the sub-plots just come and go in a few brief scenes. Later on after a small research I found that the whole movie was based on a series - that's why it felt as something put in between a new season of the series and not as complete movie afterall. Yes, there were some interesting characters in it, but some of their features were unexplained or just left hanging in the mid-air like leaves frozen by Sub Zero's touch. It wasn't taken time in putting more substance and detail to the characters, maybe just the one of Liu Yufei's Emotionless was a bit more full bodied and vivid than the rest. 

Our lovely duo in a love story - so much sugar it would melt your teeth.
Antony Wong is very charismatic as the chief of the department and has some dignity and respect flown in his character, but I wanted to see him in action, rather than standing aside and acting like a support mage. Colin Chou is showing off his martial arts skills again, and has one quite dynamic scene with Ronald Chang's character when storming the undead army, trying to protect the prince. A combination between well made special effects and nice choreography is always a cool touch to any movie. Some scenes again was meant to be present in 3D for the audience, but they weren't as bad as those in New Swords of Dragon Gate, so I'll leave them unattended. But something was missing, something was wrong wit hthe whole pace of the movie and the scenes connected in it was somehow bit loose, scattered peices of images and actions, which all felt disconnected. It was based on a television series, but this doesn't mean that it has to look like an unfinished story of the same universe, but more like a whole breathing movie of itself. In my opinion it should be made as entirely new approach to the story which won't leave people not acquainted with the original parts a little disoriented or confused (as in my case). 

Coldblood is ready to recite his favourite poem.
Definitely it would be a shame if they didin't construct a love story to go by here, but at one point I was trying to follow 3 separate romantic tentacles, which left me cross eyed and from one scene onwards I just stopped paying attention. Being part adventure, part love story and part wuxia pian all the elaborate movements by our heroes were as usual shown as compulsory flying on roofs or any surface - this was laughable and out of place for me, ok put the damn wires on, but don't exaggerate it to a point where people can fly get a whole new meaning, not as the one portrayed in the cult trance hit from Astral Projection. Although there was some nice panoramic overhead shots, which compensated a bit the negative side of flight attendants involving in this movie. Some unnecessary scenes were thrown here and there, but they were in the vein of erotic Cat III movie instead to add something substantial to the plot or character development.

Happy people, all over the world are celebrating...
 The bad guy could be more mysterious instead of being revealed in the middle of the movie, it reminds me of Robert van Gulik's novels on Judge Dee for the infamous cat and mouse game in which we all knew how it would end. This movie was trying to be several things at once, but on few departments just went short of time, and probably budget to fully present it to the audience. It has its pros and cons, but after the end I was left more puzzled than in the beginning, thus my final judgement is right in the middle which reflects my entire opinion on the movie, and you may ask why I've said The Seven in the title? Well the seventh being me writing this review as my special power is to connect some words into article for the attention of all my readers

Nice try indeed, but it should have been more strong.


Greetings from The Grim Reaper  

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