So Close (2002)

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so close poster

Director: Corey Yuen

Starring: Zhao Wei, Shu Qi, Karen Mok, Yasuaki Kurata

111 Minutes

Sister assassins Lin (Shu Qi) and Sue (Vicki Zhao Wei) are expert fighters and computer hackers. Utilizing a surveillance satellite, they are able to stay ahead or both the police and their enemies. After a successful hit inside the heavily guarded building of a technological firm, the girls find new competition in the form of Inspector Kong (Karen Mok), an equally formidable detective. When their ruthless former employers decide to kill the sisters in order to eliminate loose ends, the two may need to rely on the person they least expect: Kong.

The film directed just before Corey Yuen’s English language film The Transporter, starring Jason Statham, there are a number of similarities here; both in terms of stylized action and sympathetic looks at those on the glamorous wrong side of the law. While there is a decided Hong Kong suspension of disbelief present, Yuen would accurately bring this to his American work as well, So Close maintains more than its fair share of fun, nose crinkling melodrama, and purely entertaining performances.

Shu Qi gives a cool and collect turn as Lin; she’s as smooth an operator as they come and while her sidestory concerning a former lover (Song Seung-heon) is soap opera bad, she handles her action well and is a believable older sister to Zhao Wei’s Sue character. Zhao’s performance is impetuous and just what you’d expect from a younger sister looking for approval from an elder sibling. While she takes a more prominent role later in the film, she never quite earns an air of maturity when you consider the line of work the sisters are in. Mok herself delivers a hugely enjoyable performance as the too smart for everyone officer hot on their tail. Her fights are very competently done and her acting ability is quite a bit ahead of the two relative newcomers playing opposite her character.

Supporting performances tend to be played for either comic relief or simply for plot advancement; whenever anyone but one of these girls is one screen, the film tends to screech to a halt. The lone exception to this is the commanding screen presence of the legendary Yasuaki Kurata, who gives the girls a very showy performance as the final fight scene baddie. He’s as physically intimidating as ever and this would mark a continued collaboration with Yuen, including English language work as well.

Though the film is well over 10 years old as of the writing of this review, the effects surprisingly hold up fairly well. There is the occasional bit of less than smooth animation, but the cuts are short and successfully maintain the illusion of movie magic. Music is certainly memorable as well, with an exciting and upbeat score coupled with a somewhat sappy but unforgettable pairing with The Carpenters’ hit, Close to You. It’s played maybe a little too much during the course of the film, but if you’re going to pay royalties, you may as well get your money’s worth, yeah?

Certainly not without its problems, and there are quite a few, So Close is fortunately able to brush them aside with an energy and go-for-it attitude that is infectiously entertaining. Always a welcome revisit, especially for that jaw-dropping Kurata final fight scene, So Close is one of those rare late model HK films that may be just as fun in subsequent viewings as the first time. Definitely a can’t miss.

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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