“Comic-book stuff – unfortunately, in the bad sense of the phrase.”
There’s no doubt about the aesthetic they’re aiming for here; heroine with secret identity, sneering evil nemesis, gadgets, etc. Take a Marvel comic from the 60’s, transplant it to the modern Far East, and there you are. Indeed, this period is apparently where SilverHawk originated; unfortunately, the makers failed to learn from similar failures such as The Avengers, The Mod Squad and Wild Wild West, and the results are lacklustre.
The problem here is mostly a script with no idea how to fill the gaps between the fight scenes, succumbing to the nemesis of so many HK films: juvenile humour. Jen is the worst offender, playing a cop out to track down Lulu Wong (Yeoh), a.k.a. SilverHawk, who is so incompetent we’re given no credible reason to believe he’d be put in charge of tea-making, never mind a high-profile investigation. They were in the same orphanage as kids: yes, it’s that kind of script. Inevitably, they team up to go against bad guy Alexander Wolfe (Goss) who wants to control people’s minds using mobile phones – the satirical potential in this idea is, inevitably, never realised. The potential for product placement, on the other hand…Nokia and BMW are the big winners there.
That’d all be okay, if the action was above average. It’s not. While still the best thing here, we actually fell asleep during the climax, and had to rewind once we woke up. There’s little sense of escalation: once you’ve seen the opening battle, that’s pretty much all the movie has to offer, save various gimmicks. Silverhawk battles thugs on bungee cords! [The producers were clearly hoping we’d all forgotten Tomb Raider, which at least made a thin pretense at explaining itself there] Thugs on roller-blades! Wolfe is clearly not short of imagination – except when it comes to giving his henchmen firearms, naturally.
It’s great to see Yeoh, now in her forties, still do a motorcycle jump across the Great Wall. However, things like the clunky mix of languages cripple this, and the result definitely won’t help Yeoh’s career. After Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, the world was at her feet, but projects such as The Touch and this one have proved very disappointing. Her talent remains clear; her judgement, on the other hand, is clearly very questionable.
Dir: Jingle Ma
Star: Michelle Yeoh, Richie Jen, Luke Goss, Brandon Chang