I'm heading to Horror Hound Weekend in Indianapolis this weekend. I'll be bringing a laptop and I fully intend to blog about the trip. Certainly, I'll blog about meeting Barbara Steele and Jeffrey Combs. I'll also be meeting several friends I only know online. The core of my Dreams in the Bitch House collaborators will be there. As will Dr.AC, my editor for Horror 101. I've never met him in the flesh, as the saying goes, but I DO know that he's an amazing force of nature, uncommonly good looking, and married. Ain't it the way...
Anyway, if any of my readership (hah!) is in Indy for Horror Hound, feel free to say hi. I'll probably be recognizable from either the Ms. 45 t-shirt or the gold and black corset and top hat. Wardrobe subject to change at a whim.
Meanwhile, I applied the roulette principle to Netflix's foreign movies for today's post. The movie it dialed up is Silver Hawk (2004, directed by Jingle Ma), a kung fu superhero movie starring Michelle Yeoh. Netflix's print of the movie has all kinds of problems. The picture is slightly blurred and the aspect ratio is all wrong. The film was also made in two versions, Cantonese and English. Netflix has the English version, and it's got some pretty stilted dialogue and performances. Actually, it's like the bad old days of grey market HK movies.
The story here is set at some non-specified point in the future, in which Yeoh plays international supermodel and businesswoman Lulu Wong, who moonlights as the eponymous superhero, Silver Hawk, defending Polaris City from crime. The new police superintendent is a childhood friend of Lulu's, and he's intent on catching Silver Hawk for the crime of making his cops look bad. Meanwhile, Lulu juggles her personal life, in which her aunt has set her up with a professor who is shortly kidnapped by a gang intent on using his revolutionary technology to brainwash the people using their cell phones.
This is a pretty stock HK actions fantasy. It's a film that feels the absence of Yeoh's Heroic Trio compatriots, Maggie Cheung and the late Anita Mui, but she's certainly capable of holding the screen on her own. The pleasures this movie offers are mainly kinetic. Watching the star kicking ass is always fun. Michelle Yeoh is a terrific actress, too, and she's certainly capable of amazing performances, but she seems to know that this material is kid's stuff. She doesn't really stretch her talents. The other actors are pretty much undone by the language divide. It's that kind of movie. It's fun, but slight. It plays a bit like a kid's movie, which seems right, I guess. It's certainly best approached in that light.
I do like the gag lampooning superhero women in heels, and the first sequence, in which Silver Hawk takes down a panda smuggling outfit has a terrific punchline when the bad guys don't give her any kind of fight, much to her disappointment. But this this film is also slick and anonymous. This is a cold movie in some ways, decorated as it is with post-modern spaces of glass and steel. There's not even a hint of chiaroscuro in the design of the film. The predominant colors are white and silver (natch). While I understand the intent, it also makes the film seem soulless. Like so many HK martial arts films of the new millennium, it lacks the animating force of the best HK films of the glory days.