Artfully orchestrating the action is legendary Hong Kong director Cory Yuen, who shows no signs of tiring with this, his 34th directing job in 21 years (in addition to his 32 gigs as an action choreographer). Yuen, whose credits include most of Jet Li's best films, including High Risk and The Enforcer, has more recently entertained Western audiences with The Transporter (also starring Qi Shu). A genius in his cinematic genre, Yuen knows how to make screen action look fantastic, with just the right pacing and skillful editing. His films are visual feasts, even if the plots sometimes fall by the wayside.
In So Close, for example, the plot is really one long chase. Lynn and Sue are orphans whose parents were murdered by bad guys looking to steal their father's invention: a worldwide eye-in-the-sky surveillance system called the world panorama. Their quest for revenge has morphed into lucrative murder-for-hire and blackmail-by-hacking businesses. Older sister Lynn is the fast-kicking, fast-shooting brawn, while little sis Sue is the brains behind the hacking.
After the murder by cyanide, forensics expert Hong studies Lynn's stiletto heel marks for clues, and soon enough, she's hot on the sisters' trail. Her search leads to a series of spectacular girl-on-girl fights, including one in a parking garage where she and Lynn are handcuffed together and kicking the hell out of each other while dodging a hail of bullets being fired by a phalanx of black-suited gangsters.
Much of the action takes place in a futuristic 90-story skyscraper with plenty of vertiginous balconies for leaping, plate glass for smashing, and elevator banks for firebombing. At one point, the indomitable Lynn finds herself at home fighting off yet another invading army of black suits while simultaneously trying to stay close enough to her computer screens to guide her sister in a wild Hong Kong car chase via satellite tracking.
American audiences increasing exposed to action flicks that look more like messy music videos or video games (Torque, anyone?) will immediately appreciate Yuen's expert touch. The action in So Close is elegant and comprehensible. Each woman's fighting style seems to reveal something about her personality. There's method behind the mayhem. Yuen even finds time to deliver a subtle feminist message, as the pursued and the pursuer join forces to attack the no-good men who are hatching their no-good schemes in the skyscraper penthouse. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hong Kong police force seems to do little more than sit around the station house making fun of women or screwing up car chases.
Nominated at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2002 for best action choreography (where it lost to Jet Li's spectacular Hero), So Close is a must-see for Hong Kong action aficionados, especially those who like to see girls rule.
Aka Chik yeung tin sai. So close to the ground.
Run time: 111 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 12th September 2002
Distributed by: Strand Releasing
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Eastern Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 6.8 / 10
Director: Cory Yuen
Producer: Po Chu Chui
Screenwriter: Jeff Lau
Starring: Shu Qi as Ai Lin, Zhao Wei as Ai Quan, Karen Mok Man-Wai as Kong Yat Hung, Yasuaki Kurata as Master, Song Seung-Heon as Yen, Deric Wan Siu-Lun as Chow Nunn, Sek Sau as Chow Lui, Ki Yan Lam as Alice, Josie Ho as Ching
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