Saturday, July 01, 2017


It's early, but so far, the 9:40pm screening of Reset as a sort of appetizer for a weekend at the New York Asian Film Festival doesn't seem like a completely stupid idea. Sure, it's kind of a bad movie and MoviePass seemed to be down when I bought my ticket, but the bus is pulling into New York right now and I don't think I'm really that worn down by the four and a half hours of sleep I got before getting up at quarter past five to get to South Station to get on Megabus. Stay tuned for me sying I fell asleep during the second or third movie of the day!

Zhi Ming Dao Shu (Reset)

* * (out of four)
Seen 30 June 2017 in AMC Boston Common #7 (first-run, DCP)

There are bits of Reset that suggest something has been lost in translation or, more likely, as the filmmakers tried to wrestle a twisty sci-fi story into a crowd-pleasing action movie, bits that connect in the right way but which lack the right emphasis or revelations that don't make a whole lot of sense. That's kind of what one expects from a movie like this, despite hoping for something a nice surprise, but the good bits in this one often wind up highlighting how dumb other parts are.

The hook is clever - it's 2025, and two companies are racing to develop travel between parallel universes; unfortunately, American firm IPT has seen their program end in disaster. They think they can recover if they steal the work of Chinese competitor Nexus Corp, where the project spearheaded by director Cheng Yijie (King Shih-chieh), Xia Tian (Yang Mi), Da XIang (Liu Chang), XIang Dong (Jin Xiyuan), and Huang Chen (Anita Wang Lidan) is making good progress. The solution proposed by mercenary Tsui Hu (Wallace Huo) is crude but potentially effective - kidnap XIa's young son Doudou ("Hummer" Zhang Yihan), inject an explosive in his neck, and tell her to get them their research data in an hour. The potential hitch with this plan is that Xia is surprisingly resourceful even without a machine that, while untested on humans, can position the other end of its wormhole up to 75 minutes in the past.

That is, admittedly, the past of a parallel but apparently identical universe, which is useful for not having to go on about paradoxes but is something that kind of gets put on the back burner as the story plays out. It makes for a rather grim set of implications that the filmmakers could spend a little more time examining even if it slowed down or spread out the action that winds up being rather backloaded, though enough is implied that doing so might have made the themes too obvious. There's still a lot that winds up being pretty dumb in the script without that: Aside from the security at Nexus HQ being so porous that this sort of risky blackmail gambit seems unnecessary (if you've got perfect eyeball containers on hand, there seems like a much easier way to go about this), there's a lot of sneaking around and yelling not shooting oneself in the foot by not explaining things. If there was ever a situation where the heroine could say "I'm you from an hour in the future of a parallel universe and we need to secure this building now" and have people believe it rather than mess around with chloroforming her doppelganger, it's this one.

Full review on EFC.

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