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Review So Close a.k.a. Xi yang tian shi (2002): It makes you wait for the action, but it is definitely worth it when it does appear!

genre: girls with guns, action, martial arts

Two sisters, Lynn (Shu Qi) and Sue (Vicki Zhao), are on a crusade to eliminate corruption at the highest level. Only they do it by killing the evildoers. Naturally these kinds of activities attract the police and one inspector in particular named Hong Yat Hong (Karen Mok) who is determined to catch them. 

A large part of So Close is about the sisters, Hong and how they interact with each other. Essentially the three are equal to each other on many levels and would have made a great team together. If not for the fact that they are each others adversaries. Despite this Sue and Hong have a mutual attraction to each other which results in a playful cat and mouse play between the two. The two sisters are tight but younger sister Sue is a little fed up being treated as such and rebels causing some friction between them although we do learn that these sisters have each others back all the way. Normally in action films like this I hardly pay attention to the story. However in this film it's essential because it does add to the dynamics between the three main characters and helps make the action scenes more exciting. Even when the story itself is as average as in most action flicks of this type I do commend Corey Yuen hinting lesbian love and keeping it tasteful. I wonder if that truly was his own idea or that it was the actresses who came up with it. But it certainly made the characters more compelling. So good job nonetheless. 

Director Corey Yuen also choreographed the action and then you simply know that good action is guaranteed. However it is obvious that actresses Shu Qi, Vicky Zhao and Karen Mok aren't trained in martial arts and therefore their fights and stunts are enhanced with the use of slow motion and CGI. Surprisingly the way it's done is very effective so I wasn't bothered by it at all. Besides the sword fight in the finale is CGI free and is very well choreographed. One legitimate complaint one could have is that it takes a while for the action to really kick off. Almost a full hour and seven minutes to be exact. But then you can be certain you will be served some good and exciting action so it's very much worth the wait.

Overall So Close is a very enjoyable and effective action flick mostly because of Corey Yuen's choreography and the likeability of the three main characters. Both the action and the attractive women provide some scrumptious eye candy and who can resist that. 

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