WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
From Hong Kong director Cory Yuen (who brought us The Transporter) comes So Close, a high-kicking digital-age martial-arts action flick that is a strangely satisfying amalgam of creaky CGI, smirking self-awareness, and three Asian babes who can really kick some serious ass—and have a blast doing it. Many critics dubbed So Close a Chinese Charlie's Angels, and there's some truth to that easy definition, but the film is more than that. It's going for the same outrageous sense of humor, but it's more successful with its smirk. And most important, although So Close is just as ridiculous as the Charlie's Angels films, it's not as crass. It's just a silly, rollicking time.
This is a film that opens with a corporate invasion perpetrated single-handedly by a comely lass named Lynn (Shu Qi), and as she flies through the air, gunning down her business-type adversaries, the soundtrack blares Burt Bacharach's corny love song "Close to You." This opening scene sets the smile in just the right location on your face, and you're prepared for the rest of this entertainingly absurd film. Turns out, Lynn has her own little family business, along with her cute little sister Sue (Zhao Wei), and they're improbably high-tech contract killers. They have a technological arsenal at their disposal, and they're living the easy life in a beautiful home as they make money assassinating corporate goons. But trouble brews when a sharp cop named Hong Yat Hong (Karen Mok) is suddenly on their tails. And of course, there's a love interest beckoning Lynn away from her life of violence and crime.
You can probably sniff out the clichés from that short synopsis, and it's true: They're in evidence, and few of them will set your eyes rolling. But for the most part, So Close transcends the clichés of its origins and layers its proceedings with great style and grinning wit—even in the fight scenes, which are choreographed with humor and skill. I rank at least one of these fight sequences very highly on my all-time list.
So Close is a surprisingly fun Asian comic-book adventure, and boy does it get a lot right. Its humor is many notches above the usual Hong Kong silliness. The film's tempo keeps So Close easily more engaging than most action films out there, and it helps that the three women at its center are absolutely delicious.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Columbia/Tri-Star presents So Close in a very good anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. I caught this film in the theater earlier this year and I can say with no hesitation that this DVD presentation blows away that theatrical presentation. At first, I was a bit alarmed by the grainy, oversaturated reds of the Columbia logo, but the image quality quickly improved, offering splendid detail and depth. Close-up detail is fantastic, although backgrounds tend toward softness. Colors are much more vibrant that in the theater. Most impressively, I noticed no overt edge halos. The only problems I noticed were some aliasing on complex patterns, and some light grain.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc offers several Dolby Digital 5.1 options: the original Cantonese and dubbed Mandarin and English tracks. Avoid the dubs and go for the original. This is a very aggressive track, with swirling, active surrounds. Dialog is accurate and rich, and music has a pleasing depth. Gunshots are powerful and screams and shrieks avoid distortion. The low end fares particularly well. There's also a French Dolby Digital 2.0 track.
Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Disappointingly, the sole extra of any interest at all is the film's Theatrical Trailer. You also get trailers for Big Shot's Funeral, Black Mask 2 City of Masks, Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Double Vision, and Returner.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
The crushing disappointment of this disc is that its extras are positively anemic. Fortunately, the audio and visual presentations are top-notch. This one is worth at least a rental.