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Original Title:
Chik yeung tin si

Hong Kong 2002

Action, Martial Arts

Corey Yuen

Shu Qi
Vicki Zhao Wei
Karen Mok
Song Seung-Hon
Yasuaki Kurata
Derek Wan
Michael Wai

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So Close

Story: Lynn (Shu Qi) and Sue (Vicky Zhao) are sisters and professional hitmen. While Lynn is the one who physically carries out the tasks, her younger sister Sue, the computer expert, is responsible for monitoring her sister and shutting down security systems. A special software called "World Panorama", which was developed by their killed father, is a big help for them, aiding them in completing their missions, because with it it's possible to hack into every security and surveillance network.
After Lynn and Sue did a job for Chow (Deric Wan), killing his brother in order for him to become the new boss of a Billion-Dollar company, Chow decides to hire the two once again to eliminate another rival. Doing so, his plan is also to get rid of the two hitmen. However, Lynn refuses the job as her old love Yen (Song Seung-Hon) reappears and she now wants to quit her living as a hitman. Sue graps her chance, finally having the opportunity to show her sister that she is also capable of carrying out a mission, and accepts the job without Lynn knowing it.
While Lynn is able to go to her sister's rescue in the nick of time, the two also have to face another problem besides Chow. Ambitious police woman Hong (Karen Mok) is also hot on their heels...

Review: "So Close" is mainstream popcorn-cinema with a lot of Hollywood influences. At first sight, parallels to "Charlie's Angels" are undeniable, but luckily this proves to be only some "smart" marketing strategy in order to push the movie outside of Asia. Actually, Corey Yuen's ("The Transporter", "The Bodyguard from Beijing") work has its own style. With lots of stylish action sequences he pleases the eye and the actresses do their share, too. While it's not that bothering to see the female main protagonists always in sexy outfits, being perfectly styled (the manly audience surely won't complain about it), there are however some scenes that are a bit of a nuisance, e.g. when non-existend wind blows through the hair of our female main protagonist.
Anyway, you won't be bothered by it for all too long, because when the actresses fight their way through the masses in best Shoot-Out and Martial Arts manner, there is nothing to fret about anymore.
As a matter of fact, Hong Kong did invent the power-woman-trio (see "Heroic Trio"), showing once again, despite some apparent western influences, that they still can do a lot better than Hollywood.

Nevertheless, "So Close" has its downsides and not a few at that. For once, there is the script which is at best standard stuff concerning the hitman-story. There is nothing new to it. Instead there is even a pretty slow middle part, which stands out because of a lot of pointless dialogues and an annoying love story.
Even though the background of some characters is explored better than one would have expected, the protagonists are two-dimensional at the very most. The worst thing about the story is the plot around the World Panorama, which somehow feels ridiculous and out of place. Apart from that and in spite of all predictability, the story turns out to have some nice twists, which wouldn't have found its way into a Hollywood-Mainstream-movie.

The movie's highlights are a very cool opening and a nice finale, which really kicks ass. Especially in these scenes you can see that Corey Yuen knows his stuff. The action looks slick, stylish and pretty impressive, even though it's not very inventive. Luckily, Yuen did place some value on letting the cinematography of his movie hit the right notes, and so there are some very cool pictures, including some nice slow-mo sequences, naturally. The frequent use of CGI-effects is very apparent, but sometimes they just look a little bit cheap. Particularly the glass shards that fly around every now and then look pretty artificial, which reduces the entertainment value a bit.
It's the same with the music. While the umpteenth repetition of "Close to you" might be barely endurable, however creating a very good surreal contrast in the first scenes when Lynn shoots her way through the guards, the score in the fight scenes are generally almost horrible. This even takes out some of the fights' pacing.

Well, the actresses surely won't get an award for their performances, but they manage to do a solid job. Especially Shu Qi shows that she was able to get some acting experience in the last few years.
There isn't to be expected any in-depth character portrayel of the three girls, yet they have the chance to prove themselves in some action scenes. Although none of the three is experienced in any Martial Art, it doesn't seem like that. Every one of them shows amazing agility and a fast eye. So it's no wonder that the fights are all very well done. Only the versed eye will be able to tell that they are no Martial Arts experts. There is no unnecessary cheap posing of any stances, like in the already mentioned "Charlie's Angels", but you in fact believe them that there are some skills behind it all. Which verifys my theory that every Asian has a congenital Kung Fu Gene...
Untenable theories aside, Corey Yuen has been choreographing better fights before, but seldomly he did let them look as stylish as here. A little highlight is the fight between Lynn and Hong, whereas Karen Mok argueable does give the best performance with regards to the fighting. Moreover, the Katana final fight against Yasuaki Kurata also has some good pacing and cuts.

Concerning the pacing "So Close" has some problems in the middlepart of the movie, but makes up for it with its finale. Sadly, a somewhat annoying girly-factor remains, of which the bathtub fighting scene is the best example for. Fortunately, the movie avoids wacky humor and proves to be a hard action movie, even though it doesn't have any ambitions to be more than simply entertaining.

"So Close" is well done popcorn-cinema, which has its moment, but also has some sore points. While I remember being really impressed watching the movie years ago, I have to say that nowadays after several Asian movies I've become a little bit more demanding, and so "So Close" is nothing that knocks my socks off anymore. Just on the contrary, for some Asian fans the film might be a little bit disappointing. On the other side some western viewers will definitely get their money's worth.
If you have just the intention to put your brain at rest only wanting to be entertained, then "So Close" is just what you are looking for!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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