Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Viral Factor (2012) Celebrating Chinese New Year!

The first film from 2012 at Unseen Films is also the China Lion Chinese New Year Release. China Lion is a distributor which releases Chinese films around the world on the same day. This means that a film that opens in Hong Kong opens the same day every where in the world. Most New Years films are comedies and family films, this one is a bloody soap opera.

First rule to enjoying this film throw any hope of a real plot that makes sense out the window. Frankly none of this makes any sense. Its got great action sequences, but little sense outside of that.

The plot has Jay Chou playing a cop escorting a bio-weapons engineer and his family to safety. The trip goes horribly wrong and pretty much everyone dies and Jay is left with a bullet in his head which will completely paralyze him with in a short period. Going home to see his mother, who is in a wheel chair, he finds out that she knows where his father and older brother are. He thought they were dead. Wanting to fulfil his mother's wish to see them again he goes to Malaysia to find them. However when he arrives he instantly gets into trouble when a group of bad guys, who are working for the bad guy who took the bio engineer, try to kidnap a doctor to take over for the bio engineer who was killed while escaping. A fight ensues and Chou realizes that the bad guy who almost killed him is in fact his lost brother, Nicholas Tse.

I'll leave it there since there is way too many twists and turns in this film to relate. Basically it's enough material for at least five years of six soap operas.

I'm very torn about the film. Yes the action is often spectacular, with a jail break and car crash sequences that make you sit up and go "hello". Actually most of this film's action makes you sit up and go Wow....the trouble is the rest of the film is all over the place.

The CGI is wildly uneven with some of the effects of some of the explosions looking terrible. Those metal cylinders are not real nor are the cars that go off the cliffs

The English and Arabic dialog is poorly handled by the non-English/Arabic speakers.

Most damaging is the fact that the plot just does what it wants to. If they need something to happen it does. Need a character to be in the bad guys hands, he is. Need a character to be able to remove a bullet with tweezers? He does. Need a character who is all shot up to be fine after having a bullet removed? He is...instantly.The plot doesn't evolve, things just happen, much like a story by a charming five year old. Through most of the film I was constantly feeling that I was missing something, nope. They were just farting around and moving things along.

I'll be kind and not get into the stupid lapses in real world logic that allows the bad guys to have a body count around ten thousand with out anyone noticing, or to have one character survive being sealed in plastic then tossed off a ship in a sack weighted with chains only to float...

Stupid doesn't begin to address it (actually the third line of my notes is This film is stupid as a stick.)

On the other hand the film weirdly works. Sure you want to riff the film to death with smart ass comments, but you also want to see how it comes out. You really do like the action and the characters, and you watch, no matter how stupid the film, because you do get invested in what happens.

How invested? You may get genuinely misty at some of the more over wrought emotional moments such as when the father smiles at being reunited with his son, or some of the late in the game blood is thicker than water or this is how I want to remember things moments.

Its a stupid as a stick movie but it is emotional. Its also a movie action fans will like even though they will find it troublesome even on its own terms.

Currently in theatrical release around the world, its worth seeing if you are a dyed in the wool action fan.

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