they have exotic super-powers, but they really just have massive chi. They are members of the Divine Constabulary,
tasked with fighting crime during the late Song Dynasty. Unfortunately, their more conventional
colleagues in Department Six are less than thrilled to have them as competitors. There is also a super-villain to contend with
in Gordon Chan & Janet Chun’s The Four (trailer
releases on DVD and BluRay today from Well Go USA.
based on a series of popular 1970’s novels, The
Four will not escape comparison to the X-Men,
especially considering the wheelchair-bound Emotionless’s Professor X-like
psychic abilities. However, she is not
running the show. The Divine Constabulary
loyally follows her adoptive father, Zhuge Zhengwo, who reports directly to the
guides their inquiries and Iron Hands, a flesh-and-blood Colossus, works in the
field, tapping into his network of underground contacts. He needs some back-up though, so Zhuge
recruits Life Snatcher, a preternaturally spry debt-collector, and the
lycanthropic Cold Blood, a former member of Department Six. One of many characters playing a double game,
Cold Blood is actually working as an inside informer for Department Six’s head,
the Sheriff King. Constable Ji Yaohua is
supposed to be his back-up, but she is actually a mole planted by the evil
mastermind An Shigeng (a.k.a. the God of Wealth).
The Four starts with a
counterfeiting investigation, quickly escalating into a geopolitical conspiracy
and eventually presents viewers an army of risen zombies. Instead of cheap scares, the latter are employed
as shambling grist for the Four’s martial arts mill. This is definitely a kitchen sink movie, not
particularly concerned about narrative detail.
At one point, An Shiqeng tells Ji: “You can spend the rest of your life
trying, but you’ll never guess what I’m up to.”
Well, thanks for the warning.
part of the charm of The Four is how
wildly overstuffed it is with wuxia superhero steampunk elements. Action director Ku Huan delivers some gravity
defying smackdown spectacle, relying more on leaping and kicking than
chi-fireballs. Already the subject of
several Mainland and HK television series, The
Four was a couldn’t miss box office hit in China with sequels already announced. The superstar cast did not hurt either.
Wong does his Obiwan thing as Zhuge—and it is still kind of awesome. [Crystal] Liu Yifei and Jiang Yiyan (who look
a bit like sisters, which is a blessing for them both) burn up the screen as
Emotionless and Constable Ji, knowing rivals in both the machinations afoot and
for the affections of the brooding Cold Blood.
For Jiang (who made such an impression with relatively little screen
time in The Bullet Vanishes), it is a
real star-making turn as the ruthless yet sensitive femme fatale.
zombies, uncanny martial arts, and a wonderfully ambiguous villainess, The Four has just about everything one
could ask of a big popcorn movie. Wildly
confusing fun, The Four is
recommended for martial arts and superhero genre fans. It is now available for home viewing from
Well Go USA.
Labels: Anthony Wong, Crystal Liu, DVD, Jiang Yiyan, Martial arts cinema, Superhero movies