Monday, January 17, 2005

Title: Naked Weapon
Cast: Maggie Q, Almen Wong, Daniel Wu, Anya, Jewel Lee, Cheng Pei Pei
Director:Siu-Tung Ching

Naked Weapon is one of the new breed of action films to come out from Asia, the Hong Kong film is a slick globe trotting film which has a post-Matrix feel. In the opening sequence we have a CIA investigation caught in an explosive moment. They have been following a criminal organisation led by a woman known as Madame M. Her sexy female assassin penetrates the bedrooms of the rich and criminal and then assassinates the target. However in this sequence the assassin is killed, as are a couple of the CIA agents in the ensuing fire fight.

With the assassin dead, there are no more hits from Madame M, but there are a series of abductions/disappearances of 12-13 year old girls from all round the world. With the only obvious link between them all being that they excelled in martial arts or sports. At which point the film changes pace and plot, switching to an island where the missing girls are being held against their will and are trained to become the next generation of assassin. This sequence is where we are introduced to Maggie Q as Charlene, one of the missing girls who goes on to be that new assassin.

In some ways the film feels like a number of set pieces, chapters strung together to make up the whole. Flitting from the opening assassination gone wrong, recruiting the next generation, the graduation of the new assassin, and the glamorous lifestyle of a globe trotting killer. This does curious things to the pacing of the film, but also allows for a certain degree of depth that a more straightforward structure would prohibit.

The film is filled with over the top action sequences, the sort of thing that was accounted for in the Matrix by reality not being real, or in Crouching Tiger by years of careful training. To that degree the theory is Maggie Q’s character has been in training for 6 years, even so the final fight sequence is way over the top. Which no doubt some folk will hate, but it is really just good fun, big daft action. Something which is done better here than many of the average American action thrillers that get knocked out, or many of the knocked out Hong Kong films for that matter.

One obvious criticism of Naked Weapon is perhaps that there isn’t enough made of the other characters that crop up in the film - with too much of the focus on Maggie Q, it would have been nice to see more of her friend Katherine (Anya). Another niggle is the fact that the authority figures in a film from Hong Kong are the CIA - not entirely sure what the role of the CIA is, but it would seem more likely that an investigation of this nature might be handled by a more international or local bureau. Apart from which, the cast also sees an appearance by Cheng Pei Pei as Charlene’s mother, who I didn’t spot the first time I watched this DVD, but played Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger. Maggie Q herself has had a reasonably lead role in Gen-X Cops II prior to Naked Weapon, with appearances in Rush Hour 2 and Jackie Chan’s Around The World In 80 Days. Danny Wu who plays the CIA agent also has a Jackie Chan connection since he was in the first Gen-X Cops, which was promoted by Chan.

The DVD version that I got claims to be a Special Collector’s Edition - probably because of the digitally re-mastered version and the quality of the sound, the film working equally well in Cantonese and English version. Other than that there is a commentary track with Maggie Q, and a pile of trailers for the production company, not including one for the film itself. There is also a token which allows you to buy a second disc for a small amount of money - turning this DVD version into what I guess must be the Special Special Collector’s Edition which came out in the shops some time after the version I bought.  Posted by Hello

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