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. **

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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