Big names fail to live up to hype
HAVING big names headlining a film usually implies that it has a certain credibility and depth.
Not so for spy movie Switch, which stars Hong Kong veteran singer-actor Andy Lau, Chinese actress Zhang Jingchuand Taiwanese model-actress Lin Chiling.
The film, directed by relatively unknown Chinese filmmaker Jay Sun, also boasts 3-D technology overseen by hit Hollywood film Avatar's visual-effects specialist Chuck Comisky.
But all those names fail to mask the fact that the movie is just a sleek, commercialised package that is devoid of substance and merely banking on its star power.
Its storyline, for one thing, is paper thin and chockful of cliches, revolving around a tussle between Japanese gangsters, or Yakuzas, and British mercenaries, who are vying for a valuable Chinese historical scroll.
Lau's character, special agent Xiao Jinhan, is tasked to retrieve the scroll in time for an international exhibition. He does that through some nifty high-tech computer system that is Mission-Impossible-esque.
His mission also brings him to Dubai, and when the camera pans across the skyline, it was nothing short of breathtaking.
But here's where the good stuff ends. What follows is a confusing sequence of rushed battles nestled in between abrupt scene cuts.
Lin's character, Lisa, was also a bewildering one. You never really know where her loyalties lie. She is the leader of a bevy of femme fatales who work for Yakuza leader Toshio Yamamoto, a depraved sadistic man who is in love with her because she looks like his mother.
However, she is in a romantic tangle with Lau, who has a young son with his estranged wife and fellow spy Lin Yuyan (played by Zhang).
The hasty pacing also meant that character development was lacking - each role was haphazardly dealt with.
Sadly, Lau's acting chops were sorely underused. He plays a suave playboy with good moves, but the audience hardly gets any insight into his inner thoughts.
The film cost 160 million yuan (S$33 million) to make, but the money could have been put to better use - perhaps less on the unimpressive high-tech strappings and more on the script.
Switch opens in cinemas on Thursday.