I never really make it a habit watching foreign films. I usually only do it when the movie in question gets a bit of positive feedback for whatever reason. Films like Train to Busan, Raid and IP Man come to mind. Yeah, most of the time, I watch the action genre and martial arts sub-genre because the more action on screen, the less I have to “read the movie”, keeping my eyes locked on the bottom of the screen, missing absolutely everything that’s happening. I know people laugh at me for that, but Americans are slow-talkers. It’s the other countries in the world that really, really talk fast – so there are so many subtitles that change so often that its really difficult to even see what’s happening on screen. That’s also one of the reasons I watch foreign films with an English dub at times.
When a little girl is kidnapped by a trafficking ring, they soon find they messed with the wrong child. Her mother, a notorious former gang leader (Veronica Ngo, STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI), is close on their trail and will go to any lengths to bring her child home.Well Go USA Entertainment
Elephant-in-the-room time…this film? It’s nothing new. It’s essentially Taken, or even more specifically, Kidnap. The only thing that really sets it apart is the martial arts and…let’s be honest…a movie that looks and sounds miles better than the aforementioned films. You can claim martial arts is silly and doesn’t make a lot of sense as to why so many people would not only be masters in martial arts, but prefer their fists to long-range weapons (like guns) – but you know what? Martial Arts is the musical of the east. You don’t see a lot of Asian musicals because this is what they do instead, and there can be an argument that this is much more entertaining than a musical…but…that IS just bias and opinion.
Other than the martial arts, the elements that’ll keep you watching are pretty much everything in my Behind-The-Scenes category, as this film looks, sounds, and feels immaculate. The intricate focus on lighting and colors make a lot of the shots in this film instantly photogenic all on their own, and whenever you have high-octane sequences in a film like this, you have to film and edit them in a way that makes sense, which actually can be seen as frustratingly difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing, and they obviously knew their craft very well here. They’ve most likely been doing it for years, so they’re just showing off at this point, but you know what? They’re entitled to be show-offs, and I love them for it.
The story, of course, is lacking, and no matter how much great the martial arts or even how great the movie looks and sounds cannot save the writing. I’m not somebody who can forgive the bad in favor of the good, I give credit where credit is due, period…and I can’t really give it much for the writing, which at its best, was predictable, traditional, and kept things simple as a conduit for the story to physically progress.
A lot of my bias came down to things lost in translation. Even when you have subtitles, they aren’t always perfect, and there were things said in this film that honestly confused me because I think the subtitles were taking a more direct approach to translation, which may technically match English words, but not so much the meaning behind those words. So, on more than one occasion, I was asking myself if that’s what they intended to actually say or if the translating caption-writer had a few things lost in translation. That and the acting. Acting is definitely approached differently than here in the states, which makes it more of a challenge to judge their abilities in what they do. If the fighting is done well, I usually give it an extra point there, because that is a part of the acting and it probably helps me score it more fairly, too.
At the end of the day, the high-octane direction Furie takes definitely helped make the film feel tense, and the visuals, cinematography, editing and even the music also helped capture a very specific tone and feel that is certainly welcome, but the story itself lacked enough to keep the score in the 70’s.. Take that as it is.
TOTAL SCORE – 76%
Current 2019 Ranking: 9th place out of 42 films
PEOPLE SCORE (10/20)
Acting (3/4) | Characters (1/4) | Casting (2/4) | Importance (2/4) | Chemistry (2/4)
WRITING SCORE (6/10)
Dialogue (1/2) | Balance (2/2) | Story Depth (1/2) | Originality (0/2) | Interesting (2/2)
BTS SCORE SCORE (10/10)
Visuals (2/2) | Cinematography (2/2) | Editing (2/2) | Advertising (2/2) | Music & Sound (2/2)
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE (9/10)
Introduction (2/2) | Inciting Incident (2/2) | Obstacles (2/2) | Climax (2/2) | Resolution (1/2)
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE (6/10)
Rewatchability (2/2) | Fun Experience (2/2) | Impulse to Buy or Own It (0/2) | Impulse to Talk About or Recommend it (0/2) | Engaging & Riveting (2/2)
SPECIALTY SCORE (35/40)
Action (10/10) | Martial Arts (10/10) | Foreign Film (5/10) | Halfway Decent (10/10)