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With: Shu Qi, Zhao Wei
Written by: Jeff Lau
Directed by: Corey Yuen
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive violence and a sexual conversation
Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 110
Date: 08/22/2002

So Close (2003)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Close' But No Cigar

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In 1997, when control of Hong Kong changed over from the British to theChinese, many wondered how the exciting HK film industry would surviveunder communist rule. Some talented filmmakers moved to the U.S. toresume their careers, but back home, other filmmakers have continued tochurn out new material.

Sadly, not many movies have been nearly as interesting as in the years before, the golden age extending roughly from 1986 to 1996. And Corey Yuen's So Close, which played last spring at the San Francisco International Film Festival and opens today in Bay Area theaters, does not give us hope.

So Close concerns a pair of sisters who run an assassin business. The skilled Lynn (Shu Qi) does all the field work, i.e. the killing, and her sister Sue (Zhao Wei) monitors her progress from home, using a supercomputer called World Panorama invented by their deceased parents.

Lynn runs into a former flame and contemplates retiring, but all hell breaks loose. Both cops and bad guys begin gunning for the sisters. In addition, Sue longs to get more hands-on in her work but lacks the skills to succeed.

So Close contains some clever set-pieces, mostly involving a Cyrano-type communication between the sisters. One sister maneuvers the other during a fast-paced and complex car chase scene. In another scene, the bad guys have tampered with the computer so that their images do not turn up on the video screen, making for a very complicated escape.

But director Yuen can't keep the pace up. Yuen is a prolific director as well as an actor, but none of his pictures achieve the level of excitement that John Woo, Jackie Chan, Tsui Hark or Yuen Wo-ping inspire. Not to mention that the chicks-who-kick-ass movie has been done far better, long ago, with The Heroic Trio, Naked Killer and others.

Fortunately, the lovely Shu Qi more than delivers in her role; she was also in Yuen's American film The Transporter and in Hou Hsiao-hsien's still unreleased masterpiece Millennium Mambo. She's graceful, sexy and ever so slightly sad: a fascinating combo.

Still, if you're a Hong Kong film junkie and haven't had much of a fix lately, So Close will ease the withdrawal symptoms -- even if it's not a much of a cure.

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