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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bullet and Brain 神枪手与智多星

Bullet and Brain, starring Francis Ng, Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang

I just came back from seeing this Hong Kong movie, which opened in Malaysia today, two weeks before its scheduled release in its own country. I have NOT heard of this movie at all until I saw its contest on Star Newspaper this morning.

The main selling point of BULLET AND BRAIN, is having three Best Actor Award winners (either Hong Kong Film Awards or Golden Horse Film Awards) in the cast: Francis Ng, Anthony Wong and Eric Tsang.

Director is first-timer Keung Kwok-Man, but I got somewhat worried when I found out (belatedly, only during the opening credits) the true mastermind behind this film is 'The Master of Crappy Cinema' himself, WONG JING! (He wrote and produced the film)

Wong Jing

Here's the synopsis:

In the midst of the gunfights and bloodshed in a sinful city, there were two legendary figures — known only as 'Bullet' and 'Brain'. 'Bullet', as the name suggests, earned a reputation for being the sharpest shooter the city had ever seen. He could take out his enemy with a pistol in less than one tenth of a second.

'Brain', on the other hand, earned his reputation for ingenious plots and the countless electronic gadgets he was equipped with. Unknown to all, both Bullet and Brain have left their old lives behind & sworn never to kill or con people again. Soon they disappeared and no one has heard from them since. Nine years pass, and the tales of Bullet and Brain have become only legend. However an old debt and promise draws Bullet and Brain back to the city but this maybe their last mission...

Trust me, the film is even more cheesy and contrived than it sounds.

The charisma and acting skills of the three main actors can't really do much when the script is so utterly horrible, to the point where I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the dialogue at certain supposedly dramatic moments ("I am sorry I got you into danger, the bad guys were supposed to go only after me" "I have waited nine years for you to return, not knowing how to reward you, I have nothing with me, the only thing I can do is offer you my body" blah blah). In fact, I cringed. A lot.

At first, the film looked all right, with SOME decent production values, the (fictional?) semi-futuristic city the film is set in was somewhat nice to look at, during the first few seconds, and the first shootout scene involving the title characters is quiet entertaining, but after that, the whole film just descends into straight-to-DVD level hell.

Despite a different director, this is really a Wong Jing film, cheap gags, groan-inducing pop cultural references in Hollywood and Hong Kong, and blatant exploitational attempts to sell the attractive-looking female newcomers in the film (the names of the actresses actually appear on screen during introductory scenes of the characters they play). Sure, I'm a lusty hot-blooded male who appreciate the sight of women just as much as any lusty hot-blooded males out there, but seeing extended, badly choreographed dance sequences (a rip-off of Flashdance and Jessica Alba's Sin City schtick) at a night club that lasted for nearly five minutes does NOT titillate me. I just got a little annoyed, but mostly numb.

Towards the end, I felt so numb that I became indifferent towards what was happening onscreen. There were some twists that would've been surprising for anyone who doesn't watch movies much, but for me, I just snickered at the sheer predictable nature of the twists.

Wong Jing is an opportunist, that's nothing wrong with that. He prefers cashing in on current film trends than actual innovation, giving audiences 'what they want' instead of giving audiences 'what he thought they should want'. But he actually murdered a film with three of the most respected actors in Hong Kong!

Perhaps the film was done as a favour, perhaps this year's film industry in Hong Kong had been so horrible that the actors were desperate to make some quick cash, perhaps it's easier to make a film lazily and earn some quick box-office bucks than to pour your heart and soul into a film and then suffer a commercial flop. Some of the finest Hong Kong films I saw this year really didn't do well commercially. Even so, it still feels like seeing Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson in a film like GOOD LUCK CHUCK! (Ew?)

So, yes, please don't watch this movie, you might end up wanting to put a bullet in your brain (sorry). This film made the mediocre BROTHERS look like a masterpiece.

Francis Ng talks about BULLET AND BRAIN (in Mandarin), his self-deprecating interview is more entertaining than the actual film