SPEED ANGELS (极速天使 Ji su tian shi) DVD (2011)

SYNOPSIS: The Speed Angels and Sakura, two racing teams have always been bitter rivals and fierce competitors. SPEED ANGLES tells the story of a group of free and passionate female racers who use their remarkable skills on the tracks to express their dreams, love and desires...


We’ll start with the only piece of good news about this movie- it isn’t director Jingle Ma’s worst. That said however, it is still a terrible piece of work, and we won’t surprise if It ends up as one of our worst movies of the year. But more unforgiveable than the fact that Ma has once again wasted two hours of his audience’s time Is how tremendously he squanders the potential of an otherwise perfectly competent cast- ok maybe that’s questionable for Cecilia Cheung given the quality of her most recent works- assembled from all over Asia.

From the outset, it is clear that something is quite off. As star racer Bing (Rene Liu) sits alone in a bar getting intoxicated, her traumatic past is retold in flashbacks- on the night of her wedding, she receives a text message and rushes to a hotel to find her fiancée in a room with her best friend Mei (Cecilia Cheung). It isn’t so much the premise than the execution that is appalling- to get to the scene of the adultery, Bing has to race down a crowded shopping street in her wedding dress and then be faced with a smug callous fiancée with nary a hint of remorse for his actions.

If you can’t stomach the cringe-worthiness of this opening sequence, we’d advise you strongly not to venture any further.  Despite a somewhat invigorating scene where Bing’s coach Gao Feng (Han Jae-Suk) meets ace cabbie driver Xiaoyi (Tang Wei) and sends her on a high-speed chase after some robbers who just mugged him, Ma is all too keen at turning every single plotline and subplot into melodrama, reducing what momentum the film had going for it into pure tedium.

So besides Bing’s marriage woe, Xiaoyi is also struggling to deal with grief from her father’s passing when she was just a young girl. Gaofeng also has some history with a rival team’s star driver Sanoka (Chie Tanaka), who just happens to be headed by Bing’s former husband-to-be Asano (Kazuki Kitamura). And of course, there is Bing’s rivalry with Mei, who not surprisingly switches sides to race for Asano just before Gaofeng is supposed to announce his team for some upcoming competition.

Ambition frankly doesn’t quite cut it- instead, the movie is a product of Ma’s own arrogance at his ability to juggle so many different characters and intertwining relationships. None of them turns out fulfilling, not even Bing and Xiaoyi’s own personal struggles at overcoming their demons from the past. Worse still, Ma handles the emotions within the film with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and not a quarter of an hour goes by without a heavy-handed sequence. Ma throws in some sabotage to try to enliven the pace, but the additional story thread falls just as flat as the rest of the numerous others.

Where’s the racing you ask? Well, let’s just say that even when our characters get into their cars, the movie is just as leaden as when they are out of their vehicles. The CGI-enhanced racing scenes are hardly worth the wait, and even then, Ma knows shit about directing a thrilling action sequence as evinced from his previous attempts- ‘Seoul Raiders’ and ‘Silverhawk’. Yes, you’ll certainly find more excitement watching the racing sequences in ‘Cars 2’ than in this film.

Given the quality of the material, it’s truly surprising that Ma had managed to assemble the likes of Rene Liu, Tang Wei and Cecilia Cheung- not to mention the rest of the good-looking pan-Asian supporting cast. Liu and Tang are largely wasted in their respective roles, and it’s clear they know they were slumming from the get-go. Cheung is just as terrible as she was in ‘Treasure Hunt’, confirming once again that she should have simply just retired from acting altogether.

Indeed, there is nary a redeeming quality about this movie, save for the fact that having seen other Jingle Ma movies, this would not qualify as the worst of the lot. Still, that’s little consolation given how low he can go, and so take this as fair warning to stay far far away from this stinker. But for those adventurous enough to wander further off the beaten track, let’s just say it is one trek you’ll find long, monotonous and frankly quite infuriating.  


The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track lacks punch, and turns out as flat and dull as the movie itself. Visuals aren’t as sharp as you would expect from a DVD, and neither are the supposedly bright colours that make up the film’s palette.



Review by Gabriel Chong