Review Date: 5/31/04
Producer: Michelle Yeoh
Director: Jingle Ma
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Richie Jen, Michael Jai White, Li Bing Bing
Another ridiculous ego film from Michelle Yeoh and her fledging film company, Mythical Films, but it's considerably more enjoyable than the embarrassing and overly pretentious "The Touch" (2002). Lulu Wong (action diva Michelle Yeoh) is a rich and famous celebrity who masquerades as the crime fighting costumed vigilante, Silver Hawk. Think of her as a female Bruce Wayne without the angst. But you'd think that a woman of her social standing could at least afford to buy some decent looking wigs. Anyway, she runs into an old friend who she grew up with in Shaolin Temple (goofy Richie Jen), who is ironically a cop and naturally wants to put Silver Hawk out of business. They're eventually forced to team up to stop a madman who has a mind controlling device and plans for world domination.
While the action scenes are silly and way over the top, at least they're staged and edited well, which was "The Touch's" biggest failing. Michelle Yeoh is surprisingly animated and acrobatic this time around, and it's wonderful watching her leap around and throw high kicks. Unfortunately, she can't resist giving her character an awkward self-centered goofiness. The kung fu is quite plentiful, and all of the players do a decent job with the material. Two villains played by Michael Jai White and beautiful Li Bing Bing are particularly fun to watch. The flashbacks to Shaolin are utterly delightful and quite possibly the best parts of the film. The film looks and sounds great and is an "A" production all around. Most of the effects are quite good, but there are a handful that will make you wince.
By far, the biggest disappointment in the film is the silly comic book styled story, which is sure to offend your sensibilities. After a while, though, you'll forget about trying to take the movie seriously and just look forward to the next high tech action scene. Another oddity is the bizarre choice of English dubbing for some of the Chinese characters. Obviously aimed at an international market, it seems that the extras are all dubbed in English, while the main characters freely switch between English and Cantonese. Very strange, and just a little disconcerting. However, despite all of its flaws, there's just enough energy and sincerity in the film to outweigh the pretentiousness, and in the end I found myself really enjoying it.