So Close

I just watched So Close, a Hong Kong action flick from 2002. It was directed by Corey Yuen, who helmed such fine films as New Legend of Shaolin and Fong Sai Yuk, so I thought it might be decent. He also worked on the Transporter and I have to wonder if doing a picture in the West resulted in cross-pollination of the ugly kind. It’s weird. Here’s a guy whose pedigree goes back to the martial arts films of the early 70s, who honed his directorial chops during the Hong Kong’s new wave in the late 80s and early 90s. The man knows how to choreograph a fight scene. And yet, So Close seems like an attempt to import many of the tricks of the Matrix into Hong Kong, which is strange. A good HK flick doesn’t need cheesy computer tricks, yet this film is full of them. And the tricks aren’t even good ones. The fake stuff looks really fake, especially the liberally used breaking glass that goes everywhere but never cuts anybody.

The story involves two sisters, who use a high tech satellite system their father invented to prosper as high-paid assassins (what else?!). They kill off the megalomaniacal head of an evil corporation of the cyberpunk variety. It turns out they were hired by the murdered CEO’s brother, who wanted to seize power for himself. Karen Mok plays the super intuitive cop who is on the case. She spends much of the movie chasing the two sisters. Of course, it is a forgone conclusion that cop and assassin will eventually join forces to wreak bloody vengeance on the backstabbing corporate bastard and his legion of gun-toting followers.

Some of the action scenes are good. Zhao Wei, who was delightful in Shaolin Soccer, does well with the role of the younger sister. Shu Qi, the older sister, is stylish enough but a bit flat. Of the leads, the real surprise is Karen Mok. She came up in the early 90s and really seems to have come into her own. She manages to be funny, ass kicking, and hot all at the same time. Despite the best efforts of the actresses though, So Close is ultimately a let down. It’s too long, there’s too much melodrama, and the computer effects are not worthy of a real HK action flick. Bring back wires and trampolines I say!

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