CONTROL (2013) short review

control-2013.19916 In an unnamed metropolis of the future, Mark (Daniel Wu) is a modest insurance broker who toils away to save enough money to put his mentally ill mother (Kara Hui) in a luxury retirement home. One day, in exchange for a promotion, he agrees to lie in court to cover his superiors. Soon afterwards, he finds out his bank account has been emptied, and a mysterious caller with proof of his court perjury blackmails him into a escalating of robberies and risky transactions, during which he meets an old flame (Yao Chen) and a thug (Shao Bing), who are both being blackmailed by the same caller, and finds himself on the wrong side of two mobsters (Simon Yam and Leon Dai). Elements of various infinitely more successful films find their way into Kenneth Bi’s Control : shades of The Matrix, Cellular, Die Hard With a Vengeance and a few others are hard to ignore. Equally distracting is the fact that the film is set in the future for no discernible reason : it doesn’t carry a message about surveillance as the marketing might lead you to believe, and its vision of forthcoming times is muddled and half-baked, serving no dramatic purpose. Still, Control is serviceable as a straightforward, undemanding thriller, and while Yao Chen is once again underused, Simon Yam and Leon Dai make an enjoyable double-act of slimy criminals, while Kara Hui seems to be acting in a different, much more affecting film. **1/2

DOUBLE VISION (2002) review

Proceeding both from the “Serial Killer thriller” wave initiated by the success of David Fincher’s Se7en, and from the horror phase in Asian cinema fueled by the international fame of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu, Chen Kuo-Fu’s Double Vision was co-produced by Columbia and is one of those rare Asian films featuring a well-known American actor in a prominent role. In this case it is David Morse, a consistently excellent character actor, who is paired up with the great Tony Leung Ka-Fai. They play a disenchanted FBI agent and a Taiwan cop with family issues respectively, the former being sent to Taipei to help the ill-equipped local police investigate a series of strange murders. All the victims have been found drowned without the presence of water, burnt without trace of fire, or even gutted without anyone’s intervention ; furthermore, traces of a strange fungus have been found in their brain. Soon it appears that the killer is carrying out an ancient Taoist ritual that is supposed to give him immortality.

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