Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What would be the best way to describe how I felt after watching this international flavored crime film from Golden Village International? It’s a challenge to be certain because I liked every single thing about ‘One Last Dance’. Every single thing… except the movie itself. Strange I know, but it’s true. Brazilian Director Max Makowski (that’s not a very Brazilian name, now is it) doesn’t have a lot work under his resume but he guides this film with slick polish and a smooth assuredness that insures me that this is director to be watched out for in the near future. The film lists four cinematographers, one of whom being the director, which is an awful lot of cinematographers on set but the sharp, cold color palette fits perfectly with the dead pan humor and presentation in this movie. The performances, as lead by the always charismatic Francis Ng are crisp and authentic, the story surrounding the characters was interesting, and then there was the score and that damned song that I can’t get OUT OF MY HEAD! Not since the closing credit song to the movie ‘F/X’, which of course is ‘Illusion’ by Imagination, has a movie song invaded my thoughts as much as ‘Broken Orange’ by some cat named Pakk Hui. Yep, I pretty much liked everything about ‘One Last Dance’, but the story, which I thought was cool, was told in such a disjointed, jumbled way that it was very difficult to stay with it, and when you finally thought you had a grip on the confusion, it would just run away again.

As the story goes from what I could follow, someone has kidnapped a very wealthy mans only son and it looks like he knows whodunit. Whomever did it is a heap of trouble because he’s pulled out the ‘red cards’ as his underlings have noticed. If your name gets put in one of the red card envelopes, then you’re pretty much done because that means that Cha (Francis Ng) is the hitman on your case and he’s about as automatic as the sunrise. Things start to get a little more convoluted as we are introduced to the rest of our cast which includes Joseph Quek as up and coming gangster Kou who worships Cha and is waist deep in all that is going on. Against Cha’s

stringent advice, Kou gets into bed with the Italians led by big boss Terrtano (Harvey Keitel) who is also involved somehow in the abduction of the wealthy mans son, or maybe not, I’m not sure. Kou’s sister Mae (Vivian Hsu) is a waitress who does all that she can to keep her little brother out of trouble and has caught the adoring eye of Cha, who is as calm, cool, collected and lethal around everybody with the exception of Mae who pushes the man to distraction. Investigating all of the madness floating around is Inspector Li (Lung Ti) who is a friend and chess partner to Cha.

There’s a boatload more characters we won’t concern ourselves with, and the gist of all of this is that Cha is taking the reds cards that he is given and removing all of the people who are involved in the kidnapping of this mans grown son, which very well could include Cha himself.

One of the things that does ‘One Last Dance’ a huge disservice is the fact that the story is presented on a disjointed timeline which, at least as far as I was concerned, you didn’t figure out this was the case until the end of the movie. And even still, once we do get to our relatively surprising conclusion, it only serves to heighten the confusion even greater. The story seemed simple enough, hitman has people to kill, likes a pretty girl, and then finds out there’s more to what’s going on than he initially thought. But it did run on a disjointed timeline, introduced so many characters and had such a varying degree of subplots and side plots that it raised the complexity to a completely unnecessary level. Far be it from me to tell a young auteur how to craft his masterpiece but perhaps if Makowski just jumped on a straight line and told a relatively straight and simple story without trying to show us how clever this could be, his movie probably would have been better 10-fold.

But despite the overreaching narrative and the confusion that came with it, Francis Ng almost saves the day with the character of Cha who never seemed to let the confusion that I experienced get to him at least. Ng is a veteran of at least ten thousand movies including a couple of my favorites in ‘The Mission’ and ‘Bullets over Summer’, and he uses his eyes as effectively as any actor of his era and gives Cha, whose voice never rises above normal, an internal anger which belies his external calm. If you’re a fan of Ng, then this movie is obviously one that you not only don’t want to miss, but have probably already seen.

There was an awful lot to like about ‘One Last Dance’ but ultimately a movie is really nothing more than watching a story being told, and despite all of the skill, talent, and technical wizardry behind this potentially fine film, someone botched the story that was supposed to be told, and that’s just too damn bad.

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