It is the year 2046 where robots are created to serve man. K-1, a national secret is the first cybernetic organism programmed with social conscience created by the Chinese government. To test K-1's sophisticated identity, he is sent to a remote village as a newcomer. Unaware of his true nature, the villagers come to care for him. Then an unbelievable confrontation turns everything around when another cyborg, K-88 disappears and goes on a rampage. K-1 together with local cop Xu Da Chun are sent to hunt down the malfunctioning K-88...
Take a look at the DVD cover and you’d be wondering: Did someone in Asia get so jealous of Michael Bay’s Transformers that he decided to exoticise the concept of cyborgs and add an Asian touch to it? And as per most Asian productions, you have to admit that nothing beats good old Hollywood when it comes to delivering the computer generated effects – Industrial Light Magic, anyone? But we decided to give this movie a chance anyway, simply because it is helmed by Jeff Lau, who directed Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002) one of the most affecting Hong Kong comedies of all time. Under his filmography is also A Chinese Tall Story (2005), an awkward but acceptable adaptation of the classic Journey to the West.
But oh my, this latest work of the prolific Hong Kong screenwriter disappoints so much, we don’t know how to give any credit to it. No matter how much we try to understand where Lau is coming from, we have no idea why the green light was given for this production – except for the probability that there will be audiences paying to watch it to get the same adrenaline rush as watching Transformers.
Alex Fong plays a robot which is supposed to take care of a human cop (Hu Jun, who seems to be appearing in every single movie these days), but a love triangle develops when a beautiful police woman (Sun Li) enters the picture. Cue those familiar themes of programmed emotions versus human feelings. Yes, you have probably seen it in a dozen other Hollywood movies before.
And this is just the lovey dovey part of the movie. We also have the part where robots become bad and the good cyborgs will have to pin them down. This results from Wu Jing’s questioning robot who decides to take things into his, oops, we mean, its own hands. There you have it, action and romance, what could go wrong?
While we have been quite patient with Lau’s A Chinese Tall Story despite its audacity to parody a Chinese classic, this one is plainly a pain to watch. The ridiculous story is meddlesome as it tries to mix too many developments in its 104 minutes. And coupling special effects (with the intention of milking action fans’ money) and a melodramatic romance story (with the intention of milking some tears from the more emotional viewers) is too much for us to take. Lau could have stuck to one thing and concentrated on telling a proper story.
What further baffled us is the cast involved in this movie. Fong, Hu, Sun and Wu (already quite prominent names in the industry) aside, the motley crew is joined by Ronald Cheng (can he stick to singing please?), Law Kar Ying (he was funny once, that’s it) and Eric Tseng (this guy can act properly if he wants to, we know). And as mentioned, the only reason why this mess of a movie was made was probably because of the craze created by the Autobots and the Decepticons.
The disc’s visual transfer is fine, and the film is presented in a Mandarin dubbed track.
Review by John Li
Posted on 27 November 2009