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ONE LAST DANCE (Singapore)
  Publicity Stills of "One Last Dance"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Director: Max Makowski
Starring: Francis Ng, Ti Lung, Vivian Hsu, Harvey Keitel
RunTime: -
Released By: GV & Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
Rating: NC-16 (Some violence and coarse language)
Opening Day: 11 January 2007

Synopsis :

A wildly entertaining, violent and comical adventure, ONE LAST DANCE is the story of an assassin hired to kill the men responsible for kidnapping an important man’s son. His task is not as simple as it initially seems and with every death, the killer gets closer to the final kidnapper’s name…

Movie Review:

Watching One Last Dance is akin to doing up a jigsaw puzzle. You have a reference picture, and try to fit up all the interlocking pieces. At times you stumble, and tear apart what you've done to start from scratch. Often you'll find yourself frustrated at getting nowhere, of having to be stuck with semi-complete chunks, and it's a real test of patience, willpower and determination to try and ultimately fit them all together.

That pretty summarizes how one's feelings would be when viewing the movie. You have an expectation that it might tell an exciting story that will thrill you from start to end, having premiered at Sundance and having a showcase at Cannes. It stars recognizable Asian talents in Francis Ng, Ti Lung and Vivien Hsu, not to mention an appearance by Harvey Keitel. It's a local production, with the entire misc en scene shot in Singapore, but with an international cast, crew and flavour.

It's not an easy movie to sit through. Like a slow dance in fact, picking up the pace as it waltzes along. At times you'll wonder how scenes fit together, and find yourself getting increasingly frustrated when you don't find clear and immediate answers. The dialogue could be trying and at times contrived, and made no better when we cannot watch it in the original language track it was intended, in Cantonese.

But you got to hand it to the editing which is very pivotal to the entire movie, and the stylistic elements used to spice things up during the slick scene transitions, reminiscent of movies by Guy Ritchie, with that dash of Tarantino. After all, it's in the genre of crime, so some hallmarks inevitably get put in as a nod to the relatively recent trailblazers.

Francis Ng portrayed the disillusioned hitman superbly, and compared to his latest movies in Exiled, On the Edge and Operation Undercover, his role as T is completely opposite to those - dead serious, contemplative, and ever the mystery man, looking for that elusive exit strategy. Film legend Ti Lung's Captain, on the opposite side of the law, shares this friendship with T, but alas their scenes together were limited, and their peculiar playing of chess highlights the fine line they're walking on, while there can be constant stalemates, ultimately a winner will emerge when a wrong movie is made.

Vivian Hsu and Harvey Keitel however were the unfortunate token characters, with the former being cast in a flower vase role, while the latter literally had limited guest appearances. What was interesting in the casting, were the local faces seen, some familiar due to their TV and theatre outings, like Hossan Leong, Chen Guo Hua, Zhou Chong Qing, Chen Tian Wen, and even Yeo Yann Yann, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her role. But not every local actor had bit roles, as Joseph Quek had a meaty one as Ko, T's protege and friend. Last seen in also another local crime drama movie The High Cost of Living, his second big screen appearance is totally different from Living's, being a lot less serious, and more vocal in character. Perhaps we'll even see a local Francis Ng in Joseph?

What really stood out in the movie, is the excellent theme song Broken Orange, which I feel is radio friendly enough to hit the charts. Without the lyrics sung, the musical tune is used often enough in many varied moments in the movie, and is highly effective when played in its full glory during a revelatory montage. SImply beautiful.

One Last Dance perhaps follows closely to a Mandarin saying that to taste the sweetness, you must first experience the bitterness. And don't leave until the end of the credits, which has this gem of a scene that could probably be THE scene of the entire movie.

Movie Rating:

(Not without flaws, but one of the slickest crime genre movies with a stellar cast, Uniquely made in Singapore)

Review by Stefan Shih

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