HONG KONG / TAIWAN 2010 Directed & Written by: Wong Jing Cinematography by: Kwok-Man Keung Editing: Kar-Wing Lee Music: Ying-Wah Wong Cast: Andy Lau, Barbie Hsu, Bingbing Fan, Jiao Xu, Mike He, Siu-Wong Fan, Yifei Tang, Jingwu Ma
Some things never seem to change: Wong Jing continues doing what he does best (worst) with FUTURE X-COPS, an erratic, childish SciFi flick for …(whom exactly?)
Some time in the future an assassination takes place: Dr. Masterson (no kidding), the future’s god-like leader, do-gooder and environmentalist (how in-trend is that) is attacked by a bunch of mutants. The attempt on his life fails however, thanks to Andy Lau and his sweetheart who unfortunately dies during the battle (and shortly after so does his daughter for whatever reason).
The mutants then come up with this really great idea of traveling back in time to find the young Dr. Masterson sixty years ago and kill him before he can become the great man everyone knows he is going to be in the future. Andy Lau decides to follow the mutants to save Masterson and the world (or maybe it’s just because he’s lost his family, or because he’s got really nothing better to do?).
It is bewildering – or shall we say amusing – to see how Wong Jing still shoots the same old stuff he did for the past thirty years or so. It’s almost like he re-shoots the same script (which isn’t much of a script), just touching up details here and there and exchanging places, characters and names, but otherwise sticking to the same framework.
His recipe obviously still works as his films continue raking in big bucks (and being in there just for the money his sole benchmark of success is the money): having the big names of entertainment starring, keeping the story simple, the movie scenic to not overwhelm the audience, steal as many ideas from other movies as possible to instantly increase his own movies likeability, and then stir it all really well until it’s true film stew. This time the ingredients range from TRON and ROBOCOP to BACK TO THE FUTURE and STAR WARS – RETURN OF THE JEDI (not only the Speeder Bikes), the flavors range from bland to blander.
Andy Lau reportedly agreed to do the movie only after the 19th (!) revision of the script. He should have known that a script that needs 19 revisions can’t be fixed and the movie will most certainly turn out an incomprehensible mess. Little surprise that Lau has only two facial expressions throughout the movie: the “what-am-I-doing-in-this-movie” face and the “oh-right-I-am-here-for-the-paycheck” face.
If the most talked about scenes of a movie are the kissing scenes between the main actors then you can guess the artistic qualities of the rest of the film. With an ageing Andy Lau still playing the superhero-playboy FUTURE X-COPS is not much of an action movie, with stupid kids saying even more stupid one-liners it’s not much of a comedy, with C-grade special effects it’s not much of a science fiction flick either, and with one of the most idiotic stories ever put on paper FUTURE X-COPS is a real post Chinese New Year disaster. The best I can say is that it’s nonsense.
It’s hilarious to read that some have slammed FUTURE X-COPS for not living up to AVATAR after it was banned to make room for Chinese movies to rule the local box office. Which in fact means that many out there have really thought and hoped that Wong Jing can make FUTURE X-COPS the Chinese AVATAR. I don’t know what to say. Believing that FUTURE X-COPS could match AVATAR in terms of SciFi qualities is very naïve, pathetic and is evidence of zero knowledge about moviemaking and moviemakers.
China is still not a great and mighty filmmaking nation, despite the many great movies coming out the country since decades. But that doesn’t mean that Chinese movies per se are setting industry standards. What we are witnessing lately is a lot of ambition mixed with a lot of overconfidence. Peter Chan’s BODYGUARDS & ASSASSINS has failed to live up to its bold claim, and so does FUTURE X-COPS, with the difference being Wong Jing categorizing his movie more as a romantic film than a SciFi flick.
I won’t let him get away with it though. I know he can do better than this. Watch THE LAST BLOOD, HIGH RISK, RETURN TO A BETTER TOMORROW or LOVE GENERATION HONG KONG for instance. Not great movies, but proof that the Wong Jing way of making movies can work within a certain context and when putting a little effort into it.
FUTURE X-COPS on the other hand shows what happens if no one cares about the film and the sole goal is quick money. FUTURE X-COPS is not a movie, it’s an investment, and I’m not really going to the cinema to watch investments. Neither should you.
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