The Blacksheep Affair (HK 1998)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: Another Meltdown (US release)
Action Director: Ching Siu Tung
Cast: Zhao Wen Zhiou (Chiu Man Cheuk, Vincent Zhao), Kenneth Tsang, Shu Qi, cameo by Xin Xin Xiong

Odd. A well made and great looking action film, but the pro-China propaganda gets heavy-handed and tiresome very quickly. Zhao Wen Zhiou is a Chinese anti-terrorist soldier who gets transferred to the Chinese embassy in a country called Lavernia, which lies on the border of Russia. The Lavernians are generally nasty people with absolutely terrible English dubbed voices who don't like Asians and plot to frame Zhiou's team after they deal with a slippery Japanese fanatical criminal. Confusing? At times. But the Chinese persevere and come out on top, even though it costs Zhiou the life of his cute, shrieking girlfriend (Shu Qi). Very uneven. Zhao Wen Zhiou finally gets to show off his fighting expertise, and he looks great. His movements are very fluid and graceful, and he's beautiful to watch in action (he must be a fine dancer). Ching Siu Tung's action choreography is excellent and the action pieces are exciting to watch, but often times hilariously excessive. (there's one scene where Zhiou shoots a guy out of a tree and continues to plug at least twenty rounds into him as he's falling - it made me laugh really hard) Just what is this film trying to say? It just barely works as an action film because the biased political slant drags it down so much. Interesting once, but keep your thumb on the fast forward button the second time through.