Maybe the “pop’ style and visual romanticism of Kar Wai Wong’s breakthrough pic (his third as director) has been too influential. Whatever the reason, the film now seems a pretty, but empty vessel in search of a soft drink. In the first of two separate-but-unequal billet-doux, Brigitte Lin’s temptress-in-a-bad-blonde-wig leads Takeshi Kaneshiro’s pineapple-addled cop on a mystery tour that ends in a shooting. Then, in the more substantial second story, another cop (Tony Leung) licks his wounds after being dumped by his girl, slowly realizing he’s become an object of desire for Faye Wong’s lunch counter attendant. There’s an off-the-charts ‘cute-quotient’ to the cast, especially Faye Wong with her Jean Seberg routine, but it’s the nearly abstract use of color, space, tricked up editing & scripted personality quirks from Kar Wai Wong that holds this together. For many, it’s enough to offset a twee tone that leaves you hungry for another film after an hour.
DOUBLE-BILL: Tony Leung & Takeshi Kaneshiro reunited as strategizing warrior and methodical storm prognosticator in John Woo’s RED CLIFF/’08;’09 which didn’t get the Stateside traction it deserved, thanks to a brutally shortened theatrical-release cut. But, at full length, the 2-Part edition is tremendous fun. Now, Kar Wai Wong’s latest, THE GRANDMASTER/’13, starring Leung, has suffered a similar amputation in a botched Stateside release. Hopefully, the original cut will show on some near-future video release.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Thanks to a few misspellings in a previous MAKSQUIBS Write-Up that kept this from popping up during a SEARCH, this is an unintentional rewrite. Four years on, the film’s charms have largely curdled. But take your critical pick.