So Close

China (2002), 111 minutes
Starring: Qi Shu, Karon Mok, Vicki Zhao
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Action
Rating: 4

Sisters Lynn (Shu) and Sue (Zhao) are high-tech killers-for-hire. Lynn does the actual killing while Sue offers technical backup with her arsenal of computers and satellite hookups. Lynn asks for instructs and Sue provides them. They have access to a network of satellite images though their father – he invented some fancy system – and was killed for it. The sisters have been using the network for dubious purposes ever since. On their trail is a cop, Hong (Mok), whom both sisters play cat and mouse with on various occasions.Lynn’s boyfriend proposes to her and she decides to get out of the business; she’s tired of having blood on her hands and tells Sue to cancel their latest contract. Sue has no boyfriend (or girlfriend as the case may be) and is inwardly distraught at being both the more passive of the duo and being told (not asked) to close up shop. Thus, Sue decides to take matters into her own hands.

As Lynn, Shu is calm and cool as any assassin should be, but her character is the least interesting of the three leads. Of course there is the mandatory mushy romance subplot with Lynn’s boyfriend (Song Seung Hun) but luckily that story is cut short about halfway through the film. Mok is good as the cop, cool under pressure and packs a lot of energy into her seemingly mousy appearance. The one who really shines here though is Zhao. As Sue, Zhao is both understated and menacing; shy and playful. Sue bites her lip when she is scared or being scolded by her sister and glares at Hong with a, “I win” stare when she escapes capture. Sue is the strongest character here and Zhao the most fun to watch, though Mok does well too.

Reminiscent of Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State, So Close’s technology is a bit dodgy, but who really pays attention to that kind of stuff in an action movie anyway? And speaking of action, Yeun throws in some pretty interesting stuff; lots of slow-mo and computer-generated shtick but it’s fairly entertaining. Nothing ground breaking but fun none-the-less. The middle of film gets bogged down with all that plot and romance stuff, but after a key plot-point (I ain’t saying nothing), the pace picks up and its action all the rest of the way.One note: the music here is horrible! Just god-awful. And I’m not even referring to the title song here (a cover of the famous Carpenter’s song) – that’s a freaking gem compared to the rest of the soundtrack. At one particularly mushy moment, some soft-jazz shit starts playing – the kind one hears on AM radio at 4am in the morning. Why?? Ick. But beyond that, the movie wasn’t half-bad. Zhao made it worth the watch.