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Review: SO CLOSE (CHIK YEUNG TIN SAI)


SO CLOSE (CHIK YEUNG TIN SAI)


SO CLOSE (CHIK YEUNG TIN SAI) , HONG KONG , 2002 , MPAA Rating : R for pervasive violence and a sexual conversation

SO CLOSE begins as an excellent example of what a martial arts action film should be. It’s full of slick moves, quick cuts, and nasty surprises for hapless victims who smile smugly until the tables are irrevocably turned on them. As satisfying as all that is, writer Jeff Lau has added another dimension to director Cory Yuen’s action mix and come up with a film as complex as the fight choreography and just as satisfying.

 

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. There is no stinting on imaginative ways to wreak mayhem, as evidenced by the first set piece in which a couture-clad angel, a self-styled computer angel to be exact, decked out in white right down to her high heels that redefine the concept of spike, takes out a tycoon who got where he is in very bad ways. It’s clever, it’s quick, it defies gravity, and the bad guy sees it coming just long enough to regret it as our angel, Lynn (Qi Shu), makes her daring escape with the help of sister Sue (Vicki Zhao), who’s back at a sort of mission control that lets her manipulate pretty much anything that plugs into the grid.

 

But our angel and her sister aren’t do-gooders. No, they’re assassins for hire, and Lynn starts re-thinking her calling when she runs into her first love, Yan (Seung-heon Song), who wants to heat things up again. Meanwhile, there’s a new cop on the beat, Hong (Karen Mok), who’s just as smart, just as dangerous, and closing in. Between the dust-ups, including two ingeniously choreographed to accommodate the small space in an elevator, one sister suffers guilt, the other sulks about going it alone and then engages in a dangerous flirtation of her own that injects some delightful ambiguity into the plot. And, of course, hearts are bruised, eyes are opened, and gee-whiz stunts fly with abandon through plate glass, down elevator shafts, and against cross-town traffic. Never mind the plot twists, shifting alliances, and some deft comic relief courtesy of Kong’s hapless assistant, a guy who’s out of his league, but all in all, pretty cheerful about it. It all culminates in a showdown with samurai swords that exhibits some seriously precise choreography and exquisitely composed tableaux (mostly) vivante.

 

The characters are written with a believable emotional life, even if the backstory of murdered parents and lost friends totters on the edge of melodrama. The interaction of Shu and Zhao has the ebb and flow of sibling tensions with parrying that is almost as interesting as the martial arts displays, what with the arguments being over older sister Lynn not allowing Sue to take on a hit job herself rather than something as mundane as letting her borrow the car. And the jealously resulting from Lynn losing her heart has a lovely bittersweet quality. Shu in particular, demur one minute, kicking serious butt the next while never breaking a sweat, does the guilt-trip over job and family with a calibrated restraint that sends the message without overplaying it. Coupled with Yuen’s brisk direction and a plot clatters along with a sprightly pace, SO CLOSE come dangerously close to being a solid drama with martial arts elements rather that just another terrific Hong Kong action flick.




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Moviegoer Review
 
Ian (idobson@stranger.plus.net)
I just found this review. I can't wait for it to come out here on DVD (R2) So I've ordered the Region 3 version Thanks!
 

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