Toronto International Film Festival Review – Part Three

MM,

Here’s a review of Jackie Chan’s new movie. It is definitely something different to see if you’ve gotten used to his roles from Rush Hour.

Sen-Hua (The Myth) is directed and co-written by Stanley Tong and stars Jackie Chan (who along with being stunt choreographer also had his film company, JCE Movies Ltd., produce it).

In a movie Stanley Tong co-wrote with Jackie in mind, this is Jackie Chan Hollywood failed to take advantage of and Jackie Chan everyone outside of China has never seen. If you couldn’t see this movie during the Film Festival, you should be hoping it is released this year so you don’t miss out.

The movie is a mix of the Indiana Jones-type adventure with the traditional Chinese historical action flick. Jackie Chan has a dual role in this movie – he plays the present-day archeologist, Jack, and the historic General Meng Yi who falls in love with Emperor Qin’s Korean concubine, Ok-Soo (both of whom Meng Yi has sworn to protect). In present-day, Jack has been having dreams of being the General and is not quite sure what his dreams mean. Then, by some twist of fate, his long-time friend, a scientist named William, leads him on a quest for a magical stone which causes things and people to levitate. It is on this quest that Jack sees a perfectly preserved painting of the woman of his dreams (the Korean concubine, Ok-Soo) and (unintentionally) obtains the legendary sword of General Meng Yi. When Jack is tested with the sword (he has an unexplicable bond with it, or not so unexplicable if you believe in reincarnation), he realizes that William’s quest and his dreams are tied together somehow. Jack’s dreams are clues to the past and to the answer to some of China’s greatest mysteries – immortality, Emperor Qin, and the Heavenly Palace! Of course, Jack and William are not the only ones who know about his dreams and their quest – no Jackie Chan film would be complete without the ultimate villain. As always, our hero has to defeat the villain(s) and still manage to fulfill his quest. Along the way, we also find out what happened to Jack’s dream woman and Meng Yi’s love, Ok-Soo.

Stanley Tong co-wrote Sen-Hua (The Myth) with Li Hai Shu and Wang Hui-ling of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame, which explains the epic familiarity of the story and the vast landscape scenery. However, the mood of the movie is markedly different from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, likely due to the comic relief provided in the present-day scenes. Jackie Chan’s brilliant humour and famous slapstick comedy is effectively used to lighten the underlying seriousness and tragedy of the story taking place in the past. Whatever tragedy has occured to General Meng Yi in the past is now mitigated by the relative peace Jack has in the present.

Reviews for Sen-Hua (The Myth) are so far mixed, in spite of the long standing ovation received during the Gala and World Premiere at the Film Festival. (I, unfortunately, did not see the Gala showing, but the regular screening at the Festival.) Overall, I thought the movie was exciting and fun to watch while at times being appropriately dramatic. The ending surprised even me.

As for Jackie Chan’s performance, Hollywood thought he couldn’t be taken seriously as an actor (see my next post above), he was just an action star to give roles that no serious actor would take. He may have just proven Hollywood wrong with this movie. He plays well as the loyal General Meng Yi who would sacrifice everything for his honour and his love. Finally, Jackie Chan gets to play a role he’s always wanted to play.

Fun movie facts:

1. Jackie Chan sings (in Cantonese) the love song featured in the movie.
2. Stanley Tong and Jackie Chan waited eight years to do another movie together.

Sources:

http://www.jackiechan.com/latestnews/newsupdate.htm

http://www.canada.com/national/features/tiff/
story.html?id=e7a907d0-6843-4d52-a7bd-8adb5ddee521

http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/guide/story/0,4136,94783,00.html?

http://www.empiremovies.com/tiff2005.php?id=5513

http://www.monkeypeaches.com/themyth.html

http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=21284

BB,
Cassandrah
Your local webmistress
Brigid’s Flame

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