Issue #218           HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES               June 28th, 2004

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Silver Hawk
(2004; Han Entertainment/Tianjin Film Studio/China Film Co-Production Corporation/Mythical Films/Media Asia Films)

Cantonese: Fei ying
Mandarin: Fei ying
English: Flying Hawk

 

RATING: 5/10

REVIEW:

Clad in a sleek silver outfit and sporting an array of high tech devices (including a computerized super cycle), Lulu Wong (Michelle Yeoh Chu-kheng) single-handedly foils a gang of Caucasian robbers trying to smuggle a panda out of China. Lulu possesses incredible martial dexterity and a sizeable fortune, both of which she uses for charitable purposes and (of course) to fight crime. Her self-proclaimed nemesis, Polaris City police superintendent "Rich" Man (FLY ME TO POLARIS’ Richie Ren Hsien-chi, billed here as Richie Jen), is not much of a threat. In fact, he is too stupid to even realize that the masked heroine is the same little girl he had a crush on as a child (when they were residents of what might be called "Shaolin Orphanage"). Shortly after nerdy but noted scientist Ho Chung (Chen Daming) demonstrates his revolutionary new A.I. system, he is kidnapped by thugs (SPAWN’s Michael Jai White and Li Bingbing) in the employ of would-be megalomaniac Alexander Wolfe (BLADE II’s Luke Goss). Wolfe plans on installing a modified version of the A.I. chip into a new style of portable phone, which has been dumped onto the market en masse; anyone using the device will fall victim to Wolfe’s subliminal messages and be under his control. It’s Lulu to the rescue, aided and abetted by a somewhat more accommodating Rich Man.

Michelle Yeoh Richie Ren Chen Daming

Opening with a shot of Lulu jumping over The Great Wall on her cycle, the futuristic SILVER HAWK seems set on eradicating the bad taste left by Yeoh’s previous self-produced vehicle, THE TOUCH (reviewed in issue #135), through the sheer force of spectacle. Yeoh likely hired director Jingle Ma Cho-sing in the hopes of duplicating the success of TOKYO RAIDERS, and there are sequences here that successfully replicate the infectious fun offered by that 2000 box office hit. However, an equal number seem heavy-handed and/or miscalculated. While utterly silly and indebted to MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, Lulu’s battle against a group of fighters flying around on bungee cords offers some wonderful choreography and is genuinely exhilarating. However, in an attempt to top that bit, the movie flirts with outright stupidity by later giving us roller skating villains wielding steel hockey sticks -- evidently no one involved was familiar with STRANGE BREW! As expected, the fights are enhanced to a great degree with wirework but choreographer Ailen Sit Chun-wai still manages to keep them kinetic and fluid, two qualities lacking in much of THE TOUCH’s action. Like most big-budget HK fare these days, there is an overemphasis on CGI but much of it is genuinely impressive, and the reported $15 million budget is certainly up on screen (though the relentlessly sterile glass and metal production design does grow a bit hard on the eyes after awhile).

Li Bingbing (left), Michael Jai White Luke Goss Michelle Yeoh

On the downside, SILVER HAWK is populated almost exclusively by vapid characters that fail to engage one’s interest or empathy. While Richie Ren/Jen’s comic relief cop (who dons drag in an early attempt to capture Lulu) looks like he will be the worst offender, Ren is quickly topped by Yeoh’s protege, Brandon Chang Cheuk-nam, who is almost insufferable as a motor-mouthed computer expert and charter member of "The Silver Hawk Fan Club." Yeoh’s energetic and constantly smiling lead is a welcome change from her dour TOUCH persona but Lulu is not especially well-developed, even by the comic book standards the production strives to emulate. Of even less interest is Goss’ bald villain, who is inexplicably garbed like an extra from DUNE and gifted with a pair of bionic arms for the sole purpose of offering Lulu an opponent worthy of her abilities. Silly, derivative plotting and awful scripting (exacerbated by stilted, unnatural English dialogue sequences) also take their toll and the film’s Lunar New Year family-approach to the material (no matter how prolonged the violence, no one dies or ever seems very seriously hurt) does not help matters any. In the end, SILVER HAWK is a far cry from THE HEROIC TRIO but does offer a few (somewhat guilty) pleasures, particularly for fans of its star (whose looks and moves remain on par with actresses half her age), and is not the debacle one might expect from its disastrous HK theatrical run.

Brandon Chang (left), Richie Ren Richie Ren (left), Michelle Yeoh Michelle Yeoh


PRESENTATION:

The anamorphic rendering is appropriately slick and impressive; the few lapses in the presentation appear to be conceptual. The audio has a strong, big-budget mix that enriches the action setpieces and makes productive use of the surround channels. The Canto track is also available in DTS, and offers a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin, and English; the Mandarin edition is entirely in that language (given the awful English dialogue and deliveries, this will be a preferable viewing option for some). English subtitle translation is well above average but, as usual with HK discs, the subs also appear during the English conversations. Extras consist of a 15 minute "Making Of..." (Traditional Chinese subs only), a trailer, an extensive photo gallery, conceptual drawings, bios/filmographies, and trailers for three other Mega Star titles. The keep case and outer sleeve carry the Region 3 symbol but the disc is actually all-region.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Mega Star. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Mega Star Video Distribution #MS/ DVD/482/HK
  • Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 20 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 99 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains mild violence

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful