Thursday, August 28, 2008

Movie Review: To Kill With Intrigue

Must...resist...bad jokes...based on...title...

Ah, screw it. To Kill With Boredom.

A lame soap-opera plot, mixed with some low-budget wuxia-type abilities, yielding a pretty bad movie. Another Jackie Chan/Lo Wei special, this one has Jackie (still billed as "Jacky") as a young man, Cao Le, who finds out his family is about to be attacked by a gang. They apparently expect to lose and all get killed, and so Cao takes steps to protect his pregnant girlfriend. Does he explain the situation and warn her away? No - instead he slaps her around a bit and dumps her, so she will run off to be with Le's friend. Unfortunately, his brilliant plan falls apart when he unexpectedly survives the attack, and he spends the rest of the film pining after his girl, who is spending her time pining for her lost boyfriend.

The leader of the attacking gang is a lady who was scarred by Cao's father years ago, and she now intended to torture Cao by...well, by keeping him alive, protecting him from other attacks, and then training him to defeat a late-revealed enemy. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense when I explain it either. There's also another sub-plot where Cao falls in with a group of delivery men who end up having a common enemy with Cao (there's lots of co-incidences like that in this film). Things get gradually more inexplicable and unbelievable (Cao is eventually forced to eat hot coals by his new trainer) until the final battle, with a sudden "The End" when the main bad guy is killed (oops, spoiler!).

There are a couple of nice fight scenes involving spears and other weapons (a later gang attack against Jackie is particularly good), but unfortunately most of the fight scenes have a couple of big problems. First, Lo Wei's wuxia dreams definitely exceed his reach in this go around. He seems to want to stick some vaguely supernatural abilities in many of his films, but here he goes overboard with reversed footage, jumps filmed from somewhere near the ground, very fake knife throws, cheesy sound effects - anything to make the actors look like they are really flying around. Most of these just don't work; they just didn't have enough budget or ability to make it look anything but lousy. Second, as part of the attempt to make the wuxia moves look good, Lo Wei keeps bringing the camera in close to the fighting - too close. You end up just seeing vaguely flying arms, pieces of tumbling bodied, but not enough of the action to really see what's going on.

So, besides the lousy plot and the lousy fight staging, was there anything else to recommend? No, not really. One star, and a definite step backwards for Jackie. Next up in the film festival - Jackie finally gets a chance to call more of the shots in the bizarrely-named Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu.

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