So Close (2002)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-07-21
Summary: Excellent on its own terms
Taken on its own not terribly profound terms, "So Close" is an excellent and very entertaining movie.

It has three female stars with plenty of screen presence and charisma, exciting gunfights, beautifully realized martial arts action, one intricate car chase and an ultimate showdown with a Samurai sword wielding bodyguard.

In the opening scene, Shu Qi as Lynn uses a combination of high tech and low cunning in order to assassinate a corrupt CEO who is ensconced in an all but impregnable office fortress and escapes by jumping off the top of the building, all to the sickly sweet strains of “Close to You” by Burt Bacharach.

Later she is as heroic as Chow Yun Fat ever was when she stands her ground at the computer console while a platoon of heavily armed thugs close in. She stays to shoot it out against impossible odds so that she can direct Vicky Zhao, playing her sister Sue, trying to escape from another band of hoodlums. Even though her character, Lynn, stacks up bodies like cordwood, the sheer force of numbers finally overwhelm her. That both the audience and Lynn can see the attackers makes the scene more poignant.

Karen Mok’s character is Kong Yat-hung a tough cop who, while tracking down the assassin sisters, is framed for murder. She has to join forces with Sue, who now steps out of her sister’s shadow in order to avenge her. The obvious (and not particularly well presented) sexual chemistry between them actually detracts from the primary action of the movie. But the long, brutal and wonderfully choreographed fight between them and Yasuaki Kurata is a terrific action set piece. Kurata is essentially the last berserker, the toughest of the Praetorian Guard, a man willing to die to protect his master but who will sell his life very dearly.

There is plenty of gunplay—an almost slow motion standoff in the beginning of the movie and large scale slaughter toward the end. As Kong and Sue fight their way toward the final battle, they are able to dispatch the bad guys with one shot each while avoiding being hit by the thousands of rounds fired at them.

There are subplots galore—in addition to the Sapphic attraction between Kong and Sue, Lynn is given a lame love interest—any of which could have been left out.

Superb costuming, jaw dropping set design (along with enough flying glass for three movies), unobtrusive but effective editing, impossibly athletic feats of heroism-—well worth spending a couple of hours with.

Reviewer Score: 8