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Review Project Gutenberg a.k.a. Mou seung (2018): A blend of The Usual Suspects, Fight Club and A Better Tomorrow...

genre: action, crime, mystery







When you read my tagline you might get your hopes up. I mean each one of the titles are basically masterpieces. Surely these combined must be close to perfection right? Wrong!

Project Gutenberg is an example of what can happen when someone tries to be too clever by copying twists and plot elements without actually understanding why those worked in the first place. Maybe if you haven't seen the titles you could be surprised. But even then they way events have been built up and told you might get confused. I happen to have seen the films and had a pretty good idea where things were heading and still ended up watching certain scenes over and over again to make sense of them. Not that the concept is complicated. It's really not. But it's the way the story is told. One could argue that that is exactly the point. However both in The Usual Suspects and Fight Club you can deduce the misdirection as it is integral to increase suspense. The suspense in this film is completely lacking. Actually I hard a difficult time liking the characters. I usually love Chow Yun-Fat. But this time it almost felt like he was out of place. Except in the one big action sequence which as far as I am concerned is the only scene worth watching. A return to the Chow's glory days with John Woo.

To be honest I quite liked the counterfeiting story line until it evolved into those twists and supposedly dramatic plot elements. I don't mind them if they truly enhance the viewing experience. In this case though they were just unnecessary. I also didn't like the tone or atmosphere of this film. It took itself far too seriously. There wasn't a single reason given why it does this. A lighter tone might have made the serious moments more effective since then you wouldn't expect them as much. I almost can't believe that writer-director Felix Chong also was responsible for Infernal Affairs. That movie was brilliant. But I guess experienced director Andrew Lau was very good at cutting out the pretension and keep things tight. Maybe Felix Chong shouldn't be directing films and stick to writing. 

Like I said, had the film been purely about the counterfeiting without the twists this film probably would have been real compelling. As it is now I only can tolerate it because of the big action sequence that was a throwback to Chow in his John Woo days.






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