City Under Siege, Benny Chan’s latest action thriller with a sci-fi twist, it proved that sci-fi and Hong Kong don’t necessarily go together well. However, thanks to a great cast lead by Collin Chou, this film was very entertaining. Alongside fellow Golden Horse Award winner Qi Shu – known best as The Transporter (2002) totty with soft porn beginnings – the two are odd casting choices for the leads in a film of bizarrely contrasting flavors. Sunny is a clown in a circus act but he aspires to be a top performer just like his dad, The King of Flying Knife. While in Malaysia, Sunny and a few of his circus performer friends go for a treasure hunt, stumbling upon barrels of bio-chemicals left from the war. Upon returning, some of the members are mutating due to inhaling the bio-chemicals but Sunny seems fine from the exposure. They gain extraordinary superhuman powers. The leader of the entertainment outfit Collin Chou decides to use this newfound strength to do evil. This movie is hardly original, though it has the flavor of an eastern movie thrown in with an American plot.
Much was made of the stunts by people involved in The Matrix but that also had an editor, a script writer and other professionals doing a good job. By the time, the film credits were rolling rigorously, I have already laughed out due to extreme cheesiness a hand full of time. Is the film bad? Probably, but the unintentional humour brought a cheesy taste within my tongue. This is a film that is very difficult to get into, as I spent as much time rolling my eyes as I did sat on the edge of my seat. Director Benny Chan is well known for creating expensive action blockbusters. In City, he manages to be loud, routine and offers nothing special, but Aaron Kwok who has worked with Chan on “Divergence” clearly is more effective as the naive, innocent Sunny.
Also another jarring aspect that I couldn’t get my head around was the fact that City Under Seige never explained how Wu and Zhang acquired semi-super-powers themselves is just one of the several potholes in the movie. The picture manages to coast by on sheer absurdity alone, but those looking for a serious superhero outing with only be met with weak special effects. With a harder edge this film could probably have been interesting, but the truth is a lot of it seems pitched at the children’s market. Yet somehow, it manages to be funny and somewhat enjoyable to endure. Gone are the wires, though there is still a lot of dazzling martial arts and excitement. However a lot has changed since the heyday of the 80’s, though they still have something that sets them apart from the movies of Hollywood.
It’s impossible to gauge the intentions of Chan, with his black-and-white ‘tear jerker’ flashbacks that seem out of place. Yet, I laughed and I shook my head at times. There’s also no sense throughout of a whole city being either under siege or on emergency alert. So why name the movie that? It is also worth mentioning that with what little action there was in the first place takes a back seat when Angel commandeers the heart of Sunny for what is…an awkward love subplot. I really wanted City Under Siege to be a great film, especially since I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Chou, but I think by it trying to make a serious relationship out of a ridiculous premise ruined the cheesiness we crave in B-movies.