image courtesy of Sensasian
Year of release: 2002
This VCD is available for purchase at Sensasian
Michelle Yeoh. Image courtesy of Mega Star.
One of the more hotly anticipated movies of 2002, The Touch is disappointing because it turns out to be so average. It's hard to point out exactly what's wrong with the movie, but ultimately, it might be the fact that The Touch tries so hard to compete with Hollywood movies that it ends up becoming too much like one. There's little of the spark or inventiveness which characterize the better ranks of Hong Kong movies.
In The Touch, Michelle Yeoh (who also helped to produce the film along with her boyfriend Thomas Chung) plays a circus performer who goes on a quest for a mystical Buddhist artifact after a man from her past (Ben Chaplin) comes back into her life. This might have the makings of a good movie, especially since the script thankfully shows a coherence in its' plot, but the dialogue is stiff and cliched. Even though a great majority of the cast are gweilos, for once, it's not the acting (or the fact that everyone is talking in English) which makes them look bad. It's just that what they're saying sounds like it came from a TV movie.
Michelle Yeoh and Ben Chaplin. Image courtesy of Mega Star.
Now, I know what you might be thinking -- that the action might save the day. Sadly, even though The Touch features a top star, a solid choreographer (Philip Kwok) and a large budget, its' action is fairly anemic. In fact, out of the whole movie, there are really only three action sequences. The first is Michelle's circus act, which looks nice, but isn't as exciting as your average showing of Cirque De Soleil. Next, we have a fight sequence in the middle, which is good, but much too short. The finale takes place in a cave which is on fire and the heroes and villains battle on top of pillars, which sounds exciting, but is marred by some of the worst CGI I have seen in a movie. Overall, the action in The Touch doesn't even come close to even Yeoh's more "minor" films from the late 1980's.
Things are not all bad. The film (besides the CGI) looks very good for the most part; in fact, there are several shots which are really very impressive for any movie, regardless of their country of origin. Some of the leads manage to pull out some good performances; though I will admit being predisposed towards always liking Michelle Yeoh, her young "protoge" Brandon Chang managed to impress me a bit (at the least, he's better than the majority of the teenyboppers stinking up HK movie screens nowadays). It's just that there is really nothing great about The Touch in any way. It's by-the-numbers film-making all the way. If Hong Kong truly wants to compete with Hollywood-produced product, they should get back to the things that made them great, instead of trying to beat Hollywood at their own game and becoming bland in the process.
Brandon Chang. Image courtesy of Mega Star.