Friday, March 25, 2011

Cherie Chung Week: Zodiac Killers (1991)

As of now, 1991's Zodiac Killers is Cherie Chung's last movie.

Andy Lau is Ben Li, a tour guide for Chinese tourists in Japan. When he's not doing that, he's hanging out at sex clubs in Shinjuku, ogling strippers.

He meets depressed-looking bar-girl Cherie Chung and then gets accosted by guys on motorcycles. It's a stylish, early 1990s, MV-inspired mess here, despite this being an Ann Hui film.

Cherie's roommate's boyfriend owes money to the Yakuza, or something, and there's a threat of violence there.

Andy Lau attends classes at university with his friend who is looking for his Mainland girlfriend.

There's not much point in reviewing this as it's largely a colossal waste of talent. If Ann Hui intended to make Tokyo look drab in an attempt to mirror the miserable lives of the Chinese expats in this film, she did a good job. And the use of current hit songs in the film may have made the film feel current in 1991 but now those songs only serve to remind a viewer how much styles have changed in 20 years.

Andy's boyish exuberance is misused and Cherie looks so depressed throughout much of this film that I wonder if that's her playing this character or simply her weariness as an actress after doing 25 films in the previous 4 years.

Cherie's character is involved with some Yakuza guy who seems decent to her. The problem is that her character's Japanese dialogue is clearly dubbed which grows to be a distraction.

There's some unintentional comedy in this flick when Cherie's boyfriend goes to see his long-lost friend. The guy tries to stab the boyfriend and there's a big fight scene.

Later, the boyfriend shows up to meet Cherie in a coffee shop as if everything is okay -- like he didn't just get stabbed a few hours earlier! -- and says something to the effect that his friend has changed.

Then he's giving Cherie orders to get out of Japan and deliver some tape to someone.

Yet the scene is shot without a trace of real drama and, instead, the sequence devolves into a one of those sappy music-laced flashback moments you see so often in romantic films from Hong Kong in this era. As Cherie races off, she recalls the guy's kindness and the cheesy synthesizer riff kicks in.

At that moment, a viewer is forgiven for asking: "Why is Ann Hui directing this shit?"

Near the end of this flick, Andy Lau and his buddy stumble upon an outdoor porno shoot near the train station. The whole sequence is so sub-Cinemax that it just left me gasping in amazement.

Was Ann Hui so desperate for respect in 1991 that she felt the need to add sex, violence, and nudity into this in an attempt to be taken seriously? Or was it the fault of the producers trying to to make this mess into something that would at least sell tickets at the box office?

And here's a spoiler which I'm glad to deliver: Andy's dipshit friend finds that Mainland girlfriend on the porno set out there on the train tracks. Luckily, there's a helpful flashback to the guy looking for the girl in the nightclub from the beginning of the film to remind us, Oliver Stone-like, in case we were too stupid to get what was going on.

A total and absolute failure, Zodiac Killers (1991) is not worth watching for any reason. I consider myself a hardcore Cherie Chung fan and even I want my money back now.

Check out Kozo's review of this flick here and Brian's here.

You can buy Zodiac Killers (1991) on DVD here.

But I'd urge you not to.