So Close

What passes for entertainment in Asia is truly bizarre compared to what people like over here. Over there, it is all about flashy effects and pop-singing stars. Story is completely secondary. In fact, if one tries to comprehend the plots of many of these Hong Kong movies, they usually get a headache. Such is the case with So Close, which has two pop singers and a self-lobotomized script. However, it is great to look at, and the fact that it has three impossibly gorgeous leads helps some with that. The hard part is figuring out if director Cory Yuen (The Transporter, Legend of Tekken) is trying to be serious or out to have a good time.

The reason for this is that some of his action sequences are so ridiculous that if he was trying to be serious, he failed miserably. His camera does love his leading ladies, especially Shu Qi (The Transporter, Beijing Rocks). Yuen zooms in close to her face, uses slow motion as she flips through the air, and always has the wind blowing through her hair, even when she is indoors. Qi is Lynn, an assassin for hire. She retains the utmost sense of calm even when hanging off the ceiling with her high heels, shooting everybody. She makes impossible jumps and flips, and Yuen captures it all. The beginning of So Close has her assassinating the head of a corporation. The people that hired her want her to kill somebody else, and she is reluctant to take the contract. She works with her sister Sue (Zhao Wei, Chinese Odyssey, The Duel). Sue runs the computer because she is too emotional to actually do the hit, although she thinks she is prepared. She also carries around a camera, forever recording everything she sees. The sisters have a big brother program their father developed that allows them to tap into any surveillance system.

Lynn is reluctant to take the contract, and rightly so, since it is a trap. Also, Hong (Karen Mok, Black Mask, The Irresistible Piggies), a police inspector, is hot on their trail. She wants to catch them, even though she seems to know that there is something more to what is going on. To writer Jeff Lau's credit, this plot does seem to have some more substance, although he stumbles through the story as it develops. Basically, Lynn wants to retire, Sue wants in on the action, and Hong wants them both. There is much gratuitous butt kicking in between, and everything grinds to a halt when Yuen clumsily tries to handle a romance with Lynn.

Also, STOP DUBBING MOVIES. The original film was in Mandarin and Cantonese. Zhao and Shu's characters are speaking Mandarin, however, the movie dubs their dialogue into Cantonese. Although many people will not notice, some will, and the effect is annoying. Well, noticing this takes brains, and that is not a prerequisite for watching a film like So Close. Examining the story closely will show that it makes no sense, and in a way, that's probably how it is supposed to be. Yuen crafts everything around some insane action sequences, and favors the copious use of broken glass. The highlights come every time Mok comes in contact with Shu and/or Zhao, which usually means a heckuva catfight is about to begin. So Close is all about using Zhao, Shu, and Mok as eye candy. They fly, beautifully across the screen, shooting, slashing, and fighting anything and everything in their way. It's exhilarating, in its own, vapid way.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Cantonese and English with English subtitles, Rated R for pervasive violence and a sexual conversation.

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