"Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with samurai swords," Lucy Liu sneered at Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill." From Hong Kong action choreographer Cory Yuen comes the real deal, out now on DVD: three beautiful Asian stars fighting each other and a host of goons with swords, guns, and their bare hands. Does it really matter if it's also a little silly?
Shu Qi and Zhao Wei play Lynn and Sue, orphaned sisters and paid assassins who kill with the help of their father's surveillance technology and kick-ass martial arts skills. When a corporate crook uses them to eliminate his rival, they end up with a determined undercover cop on their tail, played by Karen Mok.
Most Western films inspired by Hong Kong action flicks add ingredients that don't work: "Crouching Tiger" was too fey for most action purists, and the pseudo-philosophical gloss of the "Matrix" finally got smothered by overproduced CGI warfare. Even Tarantino's "Kill Bill," meant as homage, stumbled because it's hard to out-stylize a genre that's so artificial and over-the-top to begin with.
"So Close" doesn't mess with film-nerd in-jokes, a hipster soundtrack, or Biblical allusions. Instead, Yuen relies on the two things that have always worked: guns and girls. The swordfights, car chases, and slo-mo shootouts in "So Close" are tightly choreographed and stuffed with fresh ideas. The actresses change their skimpy outfits even quicker than they reload, and in one especially gratuitous sequence, Shu Qi and Zhao Wei play-fight in the bathtub. Who needs Cornel West?