SPEED ANGELS (2011) short review

Speed_Angels

Jingle Ma’s Speed Angels bears the distinction of being an all-female racing film – a rare thing indeed – but squanders it with a soapy, mechanical plot and an absolute lack of excitement in the racing scenes. Its tale of a washed-up racing legend (Rene Liu), her rival both on the tracks and in love (Cecilia Cheung) and her gifted new partner (Tang Wei) whose gift for speed is hindered by confidence issues, is a reasonably solid dramatic spine, but it’s constantly undercut by cringeworthy melodrama wherein all female and male characters (here an assorted bunch of pan-Asian heartthrobs who get overshadowed by the main trio) are connected by a tangled web of love, whether it be puppy love, unrequited love, love triangles, tough love or self-interested love. And the racing is as uninvolving as the plotting: races amount to a stale alternation of in-cockpit shots and truly baffling all-CGI exterior shots. As often with Jingle Ma the film is all bathed in blinding levels of white light, except this time there’s also a whole lot of purple ; it is, quite sincerely, one of the purplest films ever. What little traction Speed Angels gets comes from Rene Liu, whose charisma makes her too good for that kind of film, and Tang Wei, who shows a delightful lighter side that her often dark or tragic roles don’t allow her to display. She also wears a different headband in every scene (possibly even every shot). Cecilia Cheung doesn’t register much: like in many of her post-comeback roles there’s a muted, awkward quality to her presence. Martial arts queen Cheng Pei Pei has fun in a small quirky role: she obviously knows what kind of film she’s in. **

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TOKYO RAIDERS (2000) review

When her wealthy Japanese fiancé Takahashi (Toru Nakamura) doesn’t show up at their wedding, Macy (Kelly Chen) decides to head for Tokyo and look for him. Yung (Ekin Cheng), their interior decorator, decides to tag along, because the bills haven’t been payed and he wants his money. In Tokyo, the bickering pair runs into mob boss Ito (Hiroshi Abe)’s men, and are rescued by fellow Chinese and private eye Lin (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), who is also looking for Takahashi. But, of course, nobody is what they say they are, though everyone has the same goal : find Takahashi.

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THE LEGEND OF SPEED (1999) review

In the years following the 1997 retrocession of Hong Kong, when there were concerns over the fate of the Hong Kong film industry, one artistic collaboration was a beacon of hope, churning out nearly two films every year, most of them big hits : director Andrew Lau and actor/singer Ekin Cheng. Hot off the considerable success of Storm Riders and A Man Called Hero, they again collaborated on The Legend of Speed in 1999. It is surprising to see how similar The Legend of Speed is to the Fast & Furious films, and at the same time to note that Andrew Lau’s film actually pre-dates Rob Cohen’s first installment of the famous street-racing franchise. So this is not a case of Hong Kong cinema ripping off Hollywood successes. But the basic ingredients are the same : bad boys going toe to toe in street races, surrounded by hot babes. The main difference would be that there is no criminal dimension in The Legend of Speed ; it is more of a genuine sports film.

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