There’s nothing worse than going to the convenience store, and you really want to get in and out quickly, only to find that the person in front of you is… Well, you’ll see, in Dylan Pearce’s short, First in Line.
“If you thought Showgirls was ok, but really needed more terrorists – have I got a film for you.”
Written and produced by the man behind the ‘Crazy Girls’ topless revue at the Riviera in Las Vegas. Really, that’s about all you need to know: much like most Vegas shows, it’s quite shiny and glossy, but if you look behind the surface, it doesn’t have any real heart and possesses no brain at all. It centres on Damon Archer (Robertson), a freelance CIA operative whose day-job is running said revue – I dunno, but I always thought these shows consisted of more than five women [mind you, all I know about such things was learned from Paul Verhoeven’s epic]. They are investigating shady arms-dealer Hamid Marzook, a man with terrorist links who, it turns out, was previously responsible for the death of Archer’s wife and child. So, it’s personal as well as national security being at risk, with the terrorists seeking to detonate a bomb on Las Vegas Strip [though let’s not get involved in why Archer calls it a “chemical bomb”. Merely containing chemicals – half a ton of nitrates – does not make it a chemical bomb. Anyway…]
There are a number of ways this could have been a lot more entertaining; an awareness of its own silliness would have been a big help. I mean, the CIA operates out of a bar, and the girls’ undercover base is apparently reached through a closet in their dressing-room. This kind of lunacy abounds: as one review on the IMDB put it, “Is traveling in a motorcade of yellow motorcycles and Hummers the best way for undercover strippers to sneak up on a truck?” If they’d embraced this – something Andy Sidaris, despite his flaws, is good at – then this could have been a charming little guilty pleasure. Instead, the eye-candy, while easy enough viewing, feels almost as gratuitously plugged in as the endless mentions of the Riviera and other Vegas venues. In its defense, the film looks good, and things do get some kind of energy towards the end, albeit never above a poor episode of 24. However, if you’re looking for action, of either kind, then you’re mostly in the wrong place.
Dir: Chris Langman
Star: Clive Robertson, Nikki Ziering, Simona Fusco, Charles Fathy
“I guess The Daughter of a Business Associate is Gangster wouldn’t be quite as commercial.”
Despite being directed by the same man as part one, this is only tangentially-connected to the first two films. The most obvious difference is no Shin Eun Kyung, who was the glue that held those movies together. Instead, as noted above, there is no wife at all: Shu Qi stars instead, as Lim Aryong, a mobster’s daughter forced to flee Hong Kong after her apparent involvement in murdering the leader of a rival gang. She goes to Korea and is put under the protection of Ki-Chul (Lee), a fairly crap mobster whose sole qualification for the job is a few words of Chinese. However, his star begins to rise and he develops a tough-guy rep: it’s really Lim who is responsible, but the local criminals would rather credit Ki-Chul than admit they got their asses kicked by a girl. Eventually, her hiding-place becomes known, and a team of vengeful assassins is dispatched to Korea to take care of Lim.
Similarlu to the previous entries, it’s a somewhat sporadic mix, with the humour generally working better than the action. There’s too much obvious doubling of the heroine in the latter, though for the former Lee’s expressive eyes are a nice contrast for Qi’s deadpan cool. Possibly beating both is Hyeon, as the translator hired to interpret: she starts of by saying what Ki-Chul wants to hear, before realizing the potential in her new friend, and the interplay among the trio provide most of the film’s high-lights. On the other hand it is undeniably too long, and especially towards the end, begins to drag considerably. The love that blooms between hero and heroine is, frankly, implausible: yet, since the entire concept is fairly flimsy, this doesn’t hurt the overall feel of the movie too badly. While we certainly mourn the loss of Shin, who is missed, much like its predecessors, this has no ambition beyond being light, frothy entertainment, and as such, doesn’t embarrass itself or the series.
Dir: Cho Jin-Gyu
Star: Shu Qi, Lee Bum-Soo, Hyeon Yeong, Oh Ji-Ho