In theory this should be pretty good. With ‘City under Siege’ we have a Hong Kong action movie directed by Benny Chan with the last two films from Mr. Chan that I have seen being the solidly executed ‘Connected’ and ‘Invisible Target’. We have a couple of solid leading men in this film in Aaron Kwok and Wu Jing and a bad guy being played by Colin Chou. The last time we saw Colin Chou lace them up as a bad guy he was completely rotten in the movie ‘Flash Point’ which was awesome by the by. Sprinkle in a little Shu Qi and that legendary mouth of hers and a dash of Jingchu Zhang for a touch more femininity with an underlying theme of battling genetic mutants and we should have one solid action movie. In theory.
In World War II the Japanese, of course, were in Malaysia performing secret illegal underground Incredible Hulk type experiments on their Chinese POW’s. The British blew up the lab and it’s been buried ever since.
Fast forward to the present day where we meet circus clown Li Fei, known by his friends as Sunny (Kwok), who just wants to his opportunity to show his Uncle that he too is a master of the Thousand Dagger technique just like his old man. All of this has nothing to do with anything, but we have to get through it to get to the mutants. So some of Sunny’s circus mates… they’re in Malaysia right now… have overheard some thugs saying they know where some hidden Japanese gold is. Led by Zhang Dachu the dagger master (Chou) they attack these ruffians after they’ve blown a hole to the underground facility and force Sunny to go with them to lead the way in case something goes wrong.
Something goes wrong. They open a container, they inhale mutant dust, they freak out and they go back to Hong Kong all mutated out. The bad guys think Sunny is dead but not quite. The bad guys have gotten ugly with super powers but Sunny for whatever reason stays the same, though he too has acquired some impressive powers. On the mainland the bad guys have taken their powers and proceeded to rob banks
and stuff…. Okay, enough already. Trying to explain this film has become almost as tiresome as watching it. Just know that Sunny has made the acquaintance of a pretty TV reporter named Angel (Shu Qi) and that Hong Kong cop / mutant investigators Sung Hao (Wu Jing) and his fiancée Xiahua (Jingchu Zhang) are investigating. Mutant battles and beat downs will ensue. Getting entertainment out of this solely is up to you.
This was a strange movie my friends. Mutant investigators Sun Hao and Xiahua showing up on the scene was a little strange because who knew that Hong Kong had a mutant problem so pronounced that the police department had a special division dedicated to handling this issue? That’s curious and I wouldn’t have minded some explanation. Instead what I got was Xiahua constantly telling her fiancée how much she’s looking forward to being married and settling down and living the quiet life while her fiancée ignores her and only focuses on only the task at hand. Again, she again would go on and on about the wedding and quiet life…. Okay… I get it already. She’s gonna die. I know that’s a spoiler, but don’t blame me, blame the screenwriters because about the fifth time she started pining about her future, we knew there would be no future for this rather adorable woman.
The problems with this movie are plentiful. For instance, Aaron Kwok as the stoic, hostile character of Cloud in those Storm Warrior movies? That works. Aaron Kwok as a comedy action hero? Not so much. This movie actually had two pop-song montages. Two of them. I can’t remember the last time I saw pop song montage in a movie, much less two of them, and both were painful to sit through. This movie also had a narrative that was about as convoluted as anything you would ever want to see with the convoluted narrative having almost nothing to do with anything in this movie.
But you know… if the action is off the chain then there’s a good chance that we will give this movie a pass. And considering that this is a movie that has a huge special effects budget, mutants that fall from the sky, explosions, car crashes, more car chases, Colin Chou and Wu Jing… the action should be the least of our problems. And is it turns out the action was the least of our problems but it couldn’t save the movie. The problem with the action sequences, while spectacular when taken on their own, is that they felt so disconnected from everything else in the movie. Nothing really flowed from one point to the other. Action sequence, Sunny selling bug spray, Action sequence, Xiahua whining about the future she will never experience, action sequence, Shu Qi giving us a long drawn out speech about the meaning of love.
Is ‘City Under Siege’ worth seeing? Well, no… not really but why I am I telling you this? Chances are you are going to see it if you haven’t already. It’s what we do, we watch movies like this no matter what. No matter how good or how bad they might be. The only reason I’m typing this in the first place is because it’s part of my work / release rehab program. And it is better than ‘Future-X Cops’ so that’s something.