Monday, October 10, 2016

Mission Milano

I was really looking forward to this one; one of the fun things about how Chinese and Korean movies are playing the multiplexes is that often previews for movies show up a week or two ahead of time, so that even if you see as many movies as someone like me, there is no chance to go through a "cool, whatever, sick of it" progression. Nope, you just see the goofy trailer with Andy Lau in a slapstick comedy, get a little worried when it doesn't come out on the date in the preview, but excited about the next week.

And then it's not very good. That's doubly a bummer because I didn't get to it on time on Saturday, so I went to The Girl on the Train, and that suuuuuucked.

Still, I'll absolutely be down for it if The Invincible 12 plays American theaters. There is a crazy cast on his official 100th film.

Wang pai dou wang pai (Mission Milano)

* * (out of four)
Seen 8 October 2016 in AMC Boston Common #5 (first-run, DCP)

Wong Jing has made a truly staggering number of movies, pumping them out at such a rate that I can't tell whether the fact that the three I've seen most recently are disappointing is indicative of a trend or just bad luck. That number, unfortunately, includes Mission Milano, a spy spoof that never manages to show the sort of energy that an anything-goes script and a likable cast needs.

Swiss scientist Dr. Petersen (Xu Yazhou) has developed "The Seed of God", which can grow into any plant with just the smallest bit of soil and water, potentially ending famine forever. Interpol dispatches Agent 119, Hung Sampan (Andy Lau Tak-wah), to monitor the demonstration at Haotian Technology, a firm run by Louis Luo (Huang Xiaoming), the descendant of a family of robin-hood thieves that went straight in the last generation. Petersen is kidnapped by Crescent, a Japanese criminal organization headed by Snow (Xu Dongdong), with the intent to sell his invention to K-Max, another group that sees great potential to use it for the cultivation of cocaine. Interpol recruits Luo, his sister Ka-yan (Nana Ou-yang), and his friend Amon (Wong Cho-lam) to help in the case, and, intriguingly, when they run afoul of K-Max's Iron Hawk (Wu Yie), Cresent agent Phoenix (Michelle Hu Ran) secretly saves Louis's life.

Wong gives a hint of the best possible version of this movie in the opening, where Sampan survives an assassination attempt in Paris, and the backdrop is so obviously fake that the other ridiculous bits in it seem only natural, but the thing is, it's not all absurd - it makes a bathtub a fun part of a zippy action sequence that is both exciting and funny. Wong and action director Dion Lam Dik-on handle fight scenes well most of the time, even if Lau clearly doesn't seem to be able to match his younger co-stars. Wong's fondness for CGI-enhanced slapstick combines with a clear fondness for the more over-the-top James Bond adventures to give the audience sonic weapons, moments of genuine amazement when watching the Seed do its thing, and other amusingly goofy bits. It's a strong first twenty minutes or half hour.

Full review on EFC.

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