BODIES AT REST (2019) short review

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Renny Harlin’s career second wind in China continues: after the success of the passable Jackie Chan vehicle Skiptrace, and the costly flop of the fantasy clunker Legend of the Ancient Sword, here comes Bodies at Rest, in which a Hong Kong public morgue is invaded on Christmas eve by three masked and armed criminals (Richie Jen, Carlos Chan and Feng Jiayi). They are trying to retrieve a incriminating bullet from the body of a woman (the striking Clara Lee, only glimpsed in flashbacks), but Nick Chan (Nick Cheung), the forensic pathologist on duty, and his Mainland intern Lynn Qiao (Yang Zi) are determined not to let them have their way. This is the kind of film that Hollywood churned out relentlessly in the nineties (Renny Harlin’s heyday, of course): a sub-Die Hard game of cat-and-mouse pitting a resourceful everyman against ruthless criminals in a closed location. There’s even references to John McTiernan’s seminal actioner (of which Harlin directed the sequel, of course): bare body parts on broken glass, air duct escape… It’s a brisk and reasonably entertaining 90 minutes, bolstered by charismatic turns from Nick Cheung (not stretching in any way), Richie Jen (playing efficiently against type) and Yang Zi (more than holding her own next to the two veterans), some welcome flashes of dark humor, and brutal, gripping fight scenes. Yet the film runs of out steam in the final twenty minutes, weighted with too many twists, turns and reversals for such a thin plot and characters, as well as a rote ending. **1/2

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3 Comments

  1. Nice review as always.
    I was thinking the same as you; this is Reverse Die Hard In a Morgue. I liked the twists and i loved the many times Intern Lynn was awesome. While I agree Nick Cheung kind of plodded through where he didn’t have to do much, at the same time I liked the idea that perhaps none of them were getting out alive and I’d just have to wait and see if the Inspector got away with it, like Infernal Affairs.
    The one gripe I do have is that everyone bar the radio was speaking Mandarin. I could see the local coppers were dubbed, and I guess that was to cover the fact that the rest of the cast was in Mandarin, for reasons unknown. If it weren’t for that irritating misstep I’d have given it more than 4 out of 5. (Personal gripe: it’s like Guy Ritchie filming Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels about a bunch of Londoners in London doing London things – and filming it in French.)

    Reply
    • Thank you!
      I totally get the gripe about Mandarin instead of Cantonese, but doesn’t the film have a Cantonese version though, as it was rleased in Hong Kong as well?

      Reply
      • Yeah I guess I should have bought the physical HK dvd version instead of being cheap and buying digital 😉
        I notice on the end credits they had as many Cantonese dubbing artists as they did Mandarin, so that most exist somewhere.

        Reply

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