15 December 2013 | emuir-1
Aknock off of Farewell My Concubine
I gave the film a 6 because of its beautiful overall appearance and the Chinese Opera scenes, which was what drew me to watch the movie. I loved 'Farewell My Concubine' and have watched it countless times, but despite shamelessly borrowing a similar love triangle and plot structure from 'concubine' was forgettable within the half hour it will take me to read the reviews and compose my own.
To begin with, the film was set in 1920's Shanghai, but the glamorous young actors had today's Japanese animation hairstyles, especially General Lu, who must have been the youngest General in the entire police force and whose youthful appearance seriously undermined the film. Next, the martial arts was just plain distracting and again, out of sync with the period. Just because you can fly through the air and run up walls on wires does not mean that you should - I was expecting Jackie Chan to burst in at any time. You can have Peking Opera films and you can have martial arts/chop socky, but the two don't mix well - as if you had mixed a classical piano concerto with boogie woogie. The fight scenes in Peking Opera are very ritualistic, precise and stylised.
Last was the tortuously convoluted plot which required me to keep flipping back to earlier scenes on the DVD to see if I had missed something. Perhaps the English subtitles had left a lot of explanation out of the translation, but it was very hard to figure out what was going on, and because of this dramatic tension was completely lost. A major plot twist, which later turned out to be a red herring, was obvious right from the start, and the big reveal of the red herring was dropped as casually as if someone had accepted a cup of tea, thanks. Overall, the ending wrapped up too hastily with no tension or drama.
Perhaps this was intended to be a teen age flick where no one expected them to follow the plot as they would be too busy swooning over the handsome leads. Maybe taking back the film and recutting it might make a difference, but as it stands it is a wasted opportunity - a teenage Bugsy Malone.