Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Two-Word Review Of The Viral Factor (2012): Stay Away


Why do I feel such a need to warn potential viewers about how awful Dante Lam's The Viral Factor (2012) is?

Is it a sense of disappointment that the guy who made The Beast Stalker (2008) is now slipping in his game?

No.

It's because 10 years ago, I got into Hong Kong cinema because directors here were creative and they managed to get a lot of action onto the screen for a small amount of money.

Sure, the plot machinations and action scenes were frequently over-the-top but those moments remained ones of audacious film-making.

Whether from a sense of economy, or a new director's desire to take a risk, the stuff that so defined the cinema of this city was always fun and exciting.

The Viral Factor (2012) is neither fun nor exciting.

Dante Lam has achieved the dubious distinction of having made a shitty Hollywood film in Hong Kong.

To add further insult, except for a shoehorned sentimental epilogue, the entire film takes place in Malaysia and Jordan and elsewhere. Sure, as The Golden Rock pointed out, there are practical plot-driven reasons for this.

Still, it's an odd feeling to be in Hong Kong because Hong Kong action cinema originally inspired me to visit, and then move to, this place and be watching what amounts to a very amateurish spin on a Hollywood blockbuster with the obligatory Middle Eastern villains and muezzin-soundtracked desert action scenes.

To what end? I mean, what's the point?

Sure, I reckon that the fanboys in America who buy their Asian cinema on DVDs from the shelves at Best Buy and Walmart will eventually gravitate to this film; it's marketable to them, clearly.

And, admittedly, I'd probably buy this DVD from YesAsia and watch it in America as some sort of example of the skills of the Hong Kong film-making community.

I don't want to have multiple standards, or have to watch something from that perspective. I want a good film.

By any standard, The Viral Factor (2012) is a pretty bad film despite having expertly constructed and staged action set-pieces.

But let's not embrace this thing simply 'cause it's from Hong Kong and, thus, different.

It ain't.

It's crap.

And crap is crap no matter where it's produced.