Move over, McG. The real Charlie's Angels sequel — in spirit at least — has arrived, and unlike the Fully Throttled mess we got earlier this summer, So Close is a thing of beauty. Directed by noted Hong Kong fight choreographer Corey Yuen, who made his English-language directorial debut last year with The Transporter, this H.K. import boasts absurdly beautiful women with insane butt-kicking skills, underwear shots that titillate without being too immodest for the whole family, endless squibs and breaking-glass shots (much of that seemingly computer generated), a dorky boyfriend to make audiences feel like they could actually score with the leads, a strong lesbian subtext, and even a cheesy song (“Close to You”) for that added level of irony.
The movie opens with the insanely hot computer hacker Lynn (Shu Qi, also seen in The Transporter) being summoned before the CEO of a major corporation, who demands to know why she attacked all the company files with a virus, then cleaned it up directly afterward to prove her cybertalents. Lynn explains that she had to get close enough to take this crooked CEO out, and in due course, despite being unarmed, she manages just that. Much slo-mo, breakage, upside-down somersaulting, wall-walking (courtesy of “the hottest boots on the Paris catwalk this year”), flesh-melting, clothes-ripping, and sky-diving is involved. And if you think that's cool, wait'll you get to the movie's finale, which shamelessly cribs from Die Hard but adds kung fu chicks and samurai swords. Honestly, haven't you always hoped someone would do that?
In between crashes and fights, however, there is a definite plot. Plots are useful, but this one drags in some spots. Lynn, we learn, has been an assassin aided by the communication and hacking skills of her sister Sue (Zhao Wei) ever since the murder of their father. Hot on the trail of Lynn and Sue is sourpuss detective Kong Yat Hong (Karen Mok), who, naturally, doesn't approve of execution to take out corporate criminals. But Kong is an honest cop, and the sisters honorable assassins who only kill bad guys, so after several intense confrontations, they realize their foes are mutual. From then on, the biggest wrench in the works is that Lynn wants to quit and marry her dumb-ass boyfriend (Seoung-Heon Song), but she doesn't want Sue to carry the guilt of being an assassin and thus holds her back, which makes Sue throw a hissy fit or two.
Fans of Hong Kong cinema were seriously let down recently by Jackie Chan's The Medallion; only the hardest of the hard-core managed to come up with some feeble defenses for it. So Close is the antidote. If you thought The Transporter was good stuff, just sit back and watch what happens when Corey Yuen really cuts loose. He's best known as a fight choreographer in Hollywood (on the likes of The One and Kiss of the Dragon), but he should be allowed to film his own moves more often. While Hollywood movies often shoot action scenes with a load of unnecessary camera twitches, tricks, and cuts, So Close lets you see every step and feel every impact. It's not quite the patented “bullet time” process, but Yuen's use of slow motion really does emphasize the balletic nature of his combat.
If that's not enough of a recommendation for you, consider that the conservative Christian Web site Movieguide.org described So Close thusly: “It looks like pureed seaweed with purple artificial yogurt.” If only to try to figure out what the hell that means, you gotta check this film out.