|DVD Chun sing gai bei
Run time: 110 min
Genres: Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Director: Benny Chan
Writers: Benny Chan, Chi-man Ling
Stars: Mo-Chan Chik, Collin Chou, Chrissie Chow
Country: Hong Kong
Release Date: 12 August 2010 (Hong Kong)
Budget: $17,000,000 (estimated)
I happened to catch this movie at the theater. This is a B movie. HK superstar pop singer-actor Aaron Kwok plays a not too bright good guy. The always dependable Colin Chou plays a bad guy (with a team of villains) who is an ace knife thrower. The always pretty Hsu Qi is a TV news reporter and the damsel in distress.
Aaron and Collin(and his buddies) went down a mine shaft and got infected with a bio weapon virus that turns them into super humans, sort of like the Hulk, just not that big. It is all rather cheesy. They fight Kung Fu (with wire-work).
Aaron Kwok made this silly movie rather enjoyable with his performance. There are two actors from China who plays a couple with special knowledge of these bio phenomenas from China who are there to investigate and assist and fight. These two bore the hell out of me. However Collin and Hsu Qi are both good in their roles.
This movie is worth a rental if you like schlocky stuff. Forget it if you're looking for anything even half serious. A lot of kids in the theater who enjoyed the movie, despite the comic book violence and gore.
There ought to be a rule that says "Hong Kong filmmakers should not marry sci-fi with action genre ever". With the release of "City Under Siege", Benny Chan's latest action thriller with a sci-fi twist, it proved yet again that it's almost blasphemy to do so.
Heavenly King Aaron Kwok plays Sunny, a circus clown who dreams of being a famous knife thrower like his father. During a treasure hunting trip in Malaysia, Sunny and his fellow circus performers including Tai Chu (Colin Chou) accidentally triggered a bio-chemical weaponry that mutates them into super ugly beings. Tai Chu and the rest decide to make use of their newly-gained powers to embark on a crime spree while Sunny on the other hand is able to resist the rate of mutation.
While on the whole better than Wong Jing's horrific sci-fi action drama, "Future X-Cops", Chan's "City Under Siege" still has a long way to go as compared to the Hollywood counterparts. Audience whom are fed constantly by the barrage of superheroes adaptations such as the X-men franchise will be familiar with what Benny Chan is attempting to accomplish. The younger demographics will be enthralled given the popularity of Power Rangers and the in-thing of today's children television, Ben-10. All these bring us to one thing the standard of the makeup effects here are tacky, cheesy and laughable. Seriously all the above mentioned win hands down in this department and what we do get in "City Under Siege"? Perhaps Chan himself knew of this shortcomings that most of the gags including one in which we see Sunny seemingly wearing (transforming into) Andy Lau's rejected fat suit from "Love On A Diet" is play for laughs. Colin Chou probably suffered the most ridicule given his extreme makeover sessions had run into too much overtime.
Despite this major setback, Benny Chan (Invisible Target, New Police Story) who has a track record churning out entertaining action flicks over the years is still an adept hand in conducting massive mayhem be it on the highway or high-rise buildings with his frequent collaborator, action choreographer Nicky Li. Obviously when it comes to action sequences, no one do it better other than Chan and Li with the nimble combination of wirefu and explosions. The various fight sequences populated with plenty of CG enhanced daggers turned out to be less memorable and engaging this time though it will still please the action fans seeing Colin Chou sparring with Wu Jing and so on.
Chan who is also one of the three credited writers tries to squeeze one too many subplots and clichés into the story thus dragging the runtime over 20 minutes at least. There is the ludicrous triangle love with both Sunny and Tai Chou falling for the same girl, television anchor, Angel (Shu Qi), the group of under-exposed villains and there is the tender relationship between Suan Hou (Wu Jing from SPL), a cop in charge of the mutant-related crimes and his wife/subordinate Xiu Hua (Zhang Jing Chu from Protégé). Wu Jing is a capable action star given his extensive background in martial arts but the China-born actor has not much luck in the hall of fame despite the years spent in the industry. And here he is again in a forgettable supporting role that requires nothing else except his superior kicking moves.
There's simply not much room given to Shu Qi and Zhang Jing Chu, two capable actresses if given the right role. At the end, both characters are simply disposable and Shu Qi is relegated to the typical 'damsel in distress' while Zhang's character don't really contribute much mileage to the story on the whole. Colin Chou (The Matrix Reloaded, Flash Point) is yet again in a one-dimensional, poorly-written baddie role that he so commonly portrayed in the nineties. Aaron Kwok who has worked with Chan on "Divergence" clearly is more effective as the naïve, innocent Sunny. The boyish actor has what it takes to be the charming leading man and also the athletic capability to perform the numerous stunts opposite his opponent, Chou.
By no means, "City Under Siege" is a bad movie for the masses. Again, it's another one of Benny Chan's signature, popcorn action flicks though it somewhat tries to include too much cheesy humour and clichés. Minus the sci-fi factor (i.e. horrendous make-up effects), "City Under Siege" actually can be quite entertaining
This is probably another example of the Hong Kong culture East meets West. Having now watched Planet Terror it is also similar to the old grindhouse sci-fi horror movies where a virus turns the antagonists into super powerful zombies, however also thrown into the mix is a man who is resistant to the virus to an extent in that he gains super powers but does not get the side effects of the virus. As such, when this super mutant zombies go on a rampage through Hong Kong it is our hero that is the saviour.
Another aspect of this movie is that it is about how the weak and obscure guy becomes a hero. When the mutants first attack Hong Kong he appears and defeats them and is instantly transformed into a hero. He is no longer a nobody as he gets the beautiful and famous girlfriend and also gets the recognition. However there is a side effect in that he also attracts the attention of the other mutants. They are powerful but the side effects mean that they cannot enjoy their new found power and wealth. Thus there is that struggle between the power and the ever increasing alienation which makes then more aggressive and in the end they simply want to destroy everything.
This movie is hardly original, though it has the flavour of an eastern movie thrown in with an American plot. A group of circus performers are in Malaysia and hear of an abandoned gold mine, so they go and explore it. However it turns out to be an old Japanese lab and when they open the cannisters looking for the gold they unwittingly release the virus. They then return to Hong Kong and it is by that time that the virus has taken hold. Our hero, however, at first seems to have been effected but after a good nights sleep he has returned to normal with the exception of having super powers.
This was an enjoyable movie, but once again nowhere near the classic Hong Kong cinema of the 1980's. Gone are the wires, though there is still a lot of dazzling martial arts and excitement. However a lot has changed since the heyday of the 80's, though they still have something that sets them apart from the movies of Hollywood.
This Hong Kong action/Sci-Fi movie did have potential, and the synopsis did seem appealing, but the movie ultimately failed to live up to the expectations. And as for being a Benny Chan movie, then the movie just didn't really live up to his usual quality productions.
First of all, I want to address the title of the movie, the English title is "Assassin: City Under Siege". What? This movie title is probably as far as they could get from the actual storyline and what the movie was about. So don't put too much into the movie title, as it is a hoax.
The storyline was adequate, although it tended to be rather cheesy at times, leaning too much up against Marvel products, bordering on being a blatant rip-off at times. And that is what the movie suffered from the most. It was sort of a Hong Kong version of "X-Men", just on a toned down scale and a less funded scale.
As for the people on the cast list, well I can't claim to be much fan of Aaron Kwok, and his performance in this movie didn't really win me over this time either. Shu Qi was the one who carried the movie for me, despite not having the lead role. And also Collin Chou, who usually does put on good performances and good action, really didn't impress in this movie either – as if his heart, wasn't fully in it.
Effect-wise, then "Assassin: City Under Siege" (I just love this title) was actually quite good. The CGI worked out well, and the action sequences were nice as well. Despite this being martial arts with wires, then the fighting worked out well enough.
For a Hong Kong action movie, then "Assassin: City Under Siege" was not in the usual league of action movies to come from here; there are far better action movies available even the older ones with Chow Yun Fat.
"Assassin: City Under Siege" is good enough entertainment for a lazy afternoon if you have nothing else to do, just don't expect to be blown away.