Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
U.S. Rating: R
Canadian Rating: 14A
Rated for: Pervasive Violence and Sexual Conversation
Film Length: 111 minutes
Genre: Action Thriller
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced
Audio: Canonese, Mandarin, English Dolby Digital 5.1 &
French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
Subtitles: English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Korean, Portuguese, Thai
Release Date: December 30, 2003
As some of you may already know, I like reviewing foreign films. There is something about them that I find interesting and different in relation to our films on the western side of the world. Much of it is probably the cultural twist in the plot that I am unfamiliar with and usually makes it a worthy investment in time just to get a glimpse to what filmmakers are doing in other parts of the world. Some films are deep in story or too artsy and on occasion are not received greatly by the mass North American market. Other films are not so different then ours and offer just as much explosive action, comedy, sexiness, and intrigue as our own. So Close, an action film from legendary action filmmaker Cory Yuen (The Transporter, Bodyguard from Beijing), brings three of the hottest Asian female actresses Zhao Wei, Shu Qi and Karen Mok in a film that crosses the female action of Charlie’s Angels and the martial arts of The Matrix. These girls can kick some serious ass! Yum, Yum!
Zhao Wei and Shu Qi star as Lynn and Sue, two professional assassin sisters who use an advanced software technology of their father’s called World Panorama. Their father's program can tap into any camera system around the world and was originally designed for the police until ruthless businessmen murdered their parents. Now they use the program for their own advantage.
Lynn (Wei) is known as the Computer Angel – a killer who cannot be caught as her sister Sue (Qi) jams surveillance systems back at home as the hit gets done. Kong Yat Hong (Mok) is an undercover cop who is hot on her trail by following the song “Close” that was played during the hit we first saw. She must track the sisters down before they commit another assasination for a computer mogul named Mr. Chow. He thinks he can manipulate Lynn for his corporate needs, but she begins to have other plans in mind once the love of her life proposes to her. Sue is upset that Lynn wants to quit their line of work but respects her decision. Unknowingly to Lynn, she tries to continue the work herself. After a few surprises and double-crossing, Hong and Sue must put their differences as cop and bandit aside to seal the fate of those who plotted to destroy them.
The stylized stunt choreography gives momentum at the beginning of this film. There is some great moves and camera work that is both dizzying and amazing and will leave you wanting to do some martial arts of your own. Yuen is no beginner on big screen action sequences as he has delivered in big titles such as Lethal Weapon 4, Romeo Must Die, Kiss of the Dragon, and The One. I felt myself being drawn into the action and the visuals on screen.
The movie was also successful in bringing out the characters of the girls. We are taken into their minds as to how they feel and why they make the decisions they did. While not exceptionally written, it is a well-written story for the characters and I felt it tug my emotions on the scenes that demanded it. The explanations of how their computer software worked is somewhat vague and less believable. It presumes you will follow along and accept what you are told without argument. So Close is not the only film guilty of this, most far-fetched films make you presume the less believable. Despite that little quirk in the story I really enjoyed this film. While it felt like it dragged a little during the one-hour point in the film, it immediately picked up again and gave a good adrenaline rush for the latter 45 minutes.
Video Quality? /
I felt like I wanted to jump into this picture! There is some great three-dimensionality in this 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced image. Much of the film has awesome metallic grays that can be only appreciated with a properly set-up monitor/projector at D6500 colour temperature. There are so many shades of grey resolved in the buildings during the action sequences, and it is beautifully contrasted with the clothing on the actresses. There is never a hint of over saturation on their luscious red lips, and the spewing blood is like watching vivid animation beautifully rendered. This can also be said for the pure whites on clothing, pillows, and bed sheets that look very tempting to fall into. Outdoor scenes are nicely bright and rich in detail, although some outdoor scenes have a little edge enhancement. Darker interior shots are a little noisy and have dirt specks on the print. That is really the only flaw on this presentation. Black level is nice and deep and can be nicely contrasted with bright coloured lights flashing in the darkness like during the disco club assassination scene around 46m00s. Overall an excellent HD transfer from Columbia TriStar.
Audio Quality? /
The Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded soundtrack is charged right from the opening titles. Sounds swirl all around you engaging you for the action to come. Bass definition is great, although this isn’t a title that will give your LFE a large work out. There is lots of bass in the main channels for effects and for music, which comprises largely of a synth score that sounds a little out of place for some of the action sequences. I wouldn’t have composed the music they way they did for this film – it sounded a little childish and too much like it was made on a home computer and keyboard. It still had a rounded sound to it that was pleasing, and many bits of it is recorded out of phase for a greater impression of surround envelopment without the use of the surround channels.
Use of surround channels is frequent and provided a heightened sense of danger. It gave a good sense of space although I felt they were a little underused. Audio resolution was good, but not the best I’ve heard. Dialogue always came through clearly, although some dialogue was a little more forward than others and wanting in spatial integration. I was having a difficult time trying to find whether this film was recorded originally in Cantonese or Mandarin. I hate listening to English dub and would rather listen to original soundtrack and read the subtitles. Dialogue integration of English dub was forward and unexciting. Since I don’t know either dialect, I was looking to match lips with the actors with the audio option I was using. I came to the conclusion that some was in Mandarin and some was in Cantonese. This doesn’t seem to make much sense to me why this would be, but it seemed to be according to lip sync. The characters of Lynn and Sue were definitely Mandarin on audio option 2 because the lips matched their sweet voices and seemed very spatially integrated. The character of Hong talking to her partner seemed to match best on Cantonese audio option 1. Maybe its because of poor ADR, but many other characters’ dialogue didn’t match up at all (except for the troublesome Mr. Chow, who best sync’d with French…just kidding). I don’t believe the lip sync is the DVD’s fault because the girls’ dialogue and all of the sound effects matched up just perfectly with the video on screen. Thus my guess is the original dialogue replacement is at fault here. But if you are like me reading the subtitles and not staring at people’s lips (which I always seem to do when people talk), you’ll never notice this.
Special Features? /
No special features are included on this disc other than the theatrical trailer for this film (1.85:1, not enhanced) and a chapter selection insert opposite to the disc.
There are no DVD-ROM features either.
This film is so close to being a demo disc. The action scenes are great and filled with some really neat stunts. I watched two films that night with martial arts in it. After watching the movies I tried to go to sleep. When I closed my eyes my head was spinning with the scenes of jumps and kicks - I couldn’t get to sleep after all that action. The only let down of the film was the slightly cheesy music score. While I only gave the image quality a 4/5, in my mind it’s closer to a 4.5 because I really loved those background grays. Yes, it sounds dumb, but the rendition of it makes excellent detail and 3-D. I thought of every scene as being a new piece of eye candy, so hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I do. As for the film, watching these alluring girls do their work was also eye candy. It is a fun and fast-paced film of martial arts and a little bit of talent with the sword. Typical in my dreams, tonight these girls will probably try to assassinate me as I’m running away doing a little karate-chop myself…hmm…no, no, it’s not because of the movies I watch.