Sunday, 25 November 2012

Quick Punch: ancient beauty contest

Another day, another movie, another review, which I wanted to be at least better than the previous entry, but alas – again I found underwater rock and my positive emotions sunk like Titanic, with even more casualties. The movie itself is produced by the legendary Jackie Chan, however here his name is not even enough to generate the needed impact on my martial arts movies feelings, due to numerous factors, which I’m going to explain further down. It’s epic in scale, grand in patriotic feel, and with the same weight it crashes flat on its back and cries lonely on the bottom of the vault for useless movies.

 You can see by the title it manages to captivate the essence of the movie and what it’s all about. As you could guess it involves a clan of female characters (neatly explained in the introduction, via brief scenes emphasizing on each character’s strength), which are going to war in order to protect the last man in the house. The man is entitled by the Emperor of China to lead an army against and intruders to the Mainland, where we see the main bad guy – collaboration between odd acting and similar hair style. Poor thing. 

The leg is important as to keep the flying in right direction
It appears that the last man in Yang clan is an ambitious young person, with suspicious spear skills and plenty of heroic stances and dialog. Struck by fear that the last male subject in the family could suffer the ill fate of his father (Richie Ren), who fell in battle protecting some part of China, all the rest of the family decide to join the army and you have about a 17 female characters (from all ages) showing off their powers on screen. Following them through deserts and caves we finally approach the end credits and then it’s all over. It was quick isn’t it?

The bad is his good mood today... and his horse too.
 The filling between most of the battles is mostly sand and rocks, nothing particularly memorable or impressive – as if they had other than JC funding this project. It felt like a TV novel instead of big scale wu xia pien, maybe some of the money went for the special effects, but they were simply disappointing, maybe another part of the budget was spent on nice choreography, but in that department I saw the usual wires and no creativity, plus laughable edit and atrocious acting during these bits. It was playing heavily on the patriotic string, so popular amongst most of the recent Chinese productions, however I was not moved at all by the artificial emotions, wooden pose and tedious info dumps throughout the movie as the story unfolds – it supposed to be epic epicness of epic proportions, instead I received a lukewarm portion of something already chewed and recycled. 

On your right - the Chariot on fire.
The whole drama was too heavy and it takes itself quite seriously besides one truly LOL-moment at the final battle. There were absurd situations, which I do not know if happened in real life, such as human bridge over precipice and it was well built to withstand the safe passing of almost all members if the clan, but I suppose that as females they were on a strict diet, so to make the scene accomplished. Then the final defeat of the bad guys was made possible by the simple use of black pepper, some stilts and few brooms – a typical housewife items when they are in the kitchen, so everything was in order. 

The Human Centipede - chinese variation.
Somewhere in the middle of the story I witness a sweet family reunion and the future of the clan is no longer threatened, but it was made through a retrospection as Richie Ren’s character escapes the battlefield using a chariot which looked like an ancient version of James Bond car, including all the gadgets necessary for outsmarting bad guys on horses – really its worth the watch – it’s giving a run for its money on any Aston Martin/Lotus/Ford/BMW from the series about the famous spy. Apart from this happy occasion all the rest is bad enough to not stand even above the average rating in my book – the main problem is that it tries to present all the amazons within 90 minutes, but most of them died so quickly over the course of the movie that we barely managed to get knowing them little more detailed. 

Oh well, this one goes into "No Comment" section.
The lion’s share of the acting is divided between Cecilia Cheung, Cheng Pei Pei, Liu Xiaoqing and Xiao Ming Yu – all the rest are like Chinese version of The Expendables, where I couldn’t care anymore how they died and for what purpose. The most entertaining bit was at the end when the outtakes are seen and it was pure gold to watch how the actresses are thrown on the ground and then learn that filming a JC production comes with bruises and pain, not just glamour and Miss Beauty Pigeon contest. The martial arts choreography is mostly with weapons and hand-to-hand combat is very difficult to find, but I suppose that they tried to be true to the source instead of using some elaborate sequences to keep the fans excited. 

The Birds has left the Nest, awating further instructions...
Production values – poor, martial arts – weak, characters development – ridiculous, story arc – ruined, level of patriotism achieved – over 9000. All the element gone wrong here for me, and I think that JC should remove his logo at the beginning of the movie, not to be ashamed of what other people done with his money…

Final cut: 2.5/10 (for the overall female presence)

No comments:

Post a Comment