Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This was a little different I suppose because after years of seeing Hollywood movies reshape their Asian counterparts, Hong Kong director Benny Chan has hijacked a Hollywood movie and reshaped it in his own image. This film would be the David R. Ellis directed ‘Cellular’ starring Chris Evans, Jason Stratham, Kim Bassinger and William H. Macy and at the outset it would seem an odd choice of a film to remake, though I gotta say I thought ‘Cellular’ was surprisingly entertaining, but there was nothing particular about that movie that yelled ‘Dude, We Gotta Remake THIS!’ Nonetheless here we are with a ‘Cellular’ remake but with the last movie from Mr. Chan that I saw being his hugely entertaining cop flick ‘Invisible Target’ I wouldn’t expect much less from this movie either, and for the most part Benny Chan delivers.

Grace (Barbie Hsu) is a hard working single mom who makes her money as some kind of electrical engineer which is a bit of information that you should probably be aware of if you plan on kidnapping her. So after dropping off her six year old daughter at school Grace is broadsided by an extra large and oppressive looking Land Rover or something knocking her out, but this was no accident for when Grace comes to she’s lying in her own house, which is being ransacked by some rather unscrupulous dudes led by the particularly mean-spirited and unscrupulous Fok (Ye Liu). These cats are looking for something and after gutting the maid, Grace realizes that these guys are pretty damned serious in finding whatever it is they are looking for. Next thing Grace knows she has a bag placed over her head, is carried off to parts unknown and tossed into a shack. This shack actually has a phone in it but the bad guys smash it to bits, however if they’d done their research they would have simply taken the phone out of the room instead of all the violent theatrics, because our girl Grace has a little McGuyver in her.

A petrified Grace uses her skills to place a blind phone call which hits the cell of Bob (Louis Koo), a mild mannered debt collector. If this movie, and if this one scene we get to see before Bob gets this wayward phone call is even close to accurate to what life in Hong Kong is like, I implore all of the citizenry of that island nation to PAY YOUR BILLS. For real. So Bob gets the call, thinks it’s prank but if he hangs up then Grace is going to have to luck up on another blind call so he tracks down disgraced traffic cop Detective Fai (Nick Cheung) who also believes the call is a prank and goes on about his merry business. Eventually Bob hears and sees enough to realize that this is not a prank, and through a number of spectacular action sets tries to do his best to help Grace, and her family, survive whatever it is that Fok and his wicked crew are trying to accomplish. Even Detective Fai uncovers enough to realize that something odd is going on and gets involved, at great personal risk we might add, which culminates in a spectacular airport showdown with fist fights, shootouts, deception, corruption and all that good movie stuff.

One of the problems I have with this movie, and the original for that matter, fully recognizing that this little thing is extremely critical to the plot and that there would be no movie if they did this, but perhaps our bad guys could simply ‘ask’ for what they are looking for. Instead they simply go with ‘Where is it?’ Naturally no one knows what in the hell they are talking about which usually results in one getting the hell beat out of themselves and getting bullets pumped in the skull. Not terribly efficient if you ask me. That niggling thing aside ‘Connected’ is some fine action filled entertainment. This isn’t a shot-for-shot remake, say like ‘The Departed’ virtually was of ‘Infernal Affairs’, though most of the major plot points were the same, but the characters were noticeably different which does manage to separate the two movies. Louis Koo turned in a fine performance as the everyman thrust into an impossible situation against even more impossible odds and his character never morphed into a superman during the film which helped sell us on this unbelievable situation that he’s thrust into being a little more believable. One the good things that made the original fly was that Jason Stratham, in probably his best ever performance, was such an incredibly vile and brutal bad guy but amazingly Ye Liu’s Fok was even worse. It’s good to have a character with absolutely no redeeming social value, who exists only to have the audience hate him and cheer for something bad to happen to him. This an actor who obviously understood the term ‘bad guy’ and squeezed all the juice he could out of it until it wrung dry.

As is the case with any action movie worth its salt there are elements here and there which might cause one to scratch their head, but as I have often said, if a movie makes too much sense then you’re not watching an action movie. Though ‘Connected’ isn’t nearly as over the top and action filled as his previous film ‘Invisible Target’, as this film is also more of a thriller caper in addition to its action elements, it is still a very good movie and a fun ride to tag along with. Is it better than the movie that spawned it? I don’t know about that since anybody who saw ‘Cellular’ pretty much knew what was going to happen beforehand, but if you haven’t seen either, then I’d probably recommend that you go with this one as it added a few extra elements that just might have pushed it over the top.

Real Time Web