Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
In the middle of a fierce commercial competition between three caramel companies, an executive builds up a ditsy teenage girl as a mascot while simultaneously trying to uncover the rival companies' plans.
The Buddha's Palm, a technique by which an ordinary hand is transformed into a formidable force. Ku, a blind recluse living in a cave, knows its secret, which proves to be as much a blessing as a curse as it attracts all manner of mayhem.
The story centers around the project manager of a new sports car called the Pioneer, to be produced by the Tiger Motor Company. A larger rival company (Yamoto) has infiltrated Tiger with spies in order to steal the design.
The story builds up from what seem to be relatively harmless spying methods like filming the rival model on a test run. The Tiger manager has to use his own spying methods to counteract Yamoto. This meets with little success. This leads to a mutual escalation of industrial espionage that builds and builds and builds, peeling off layer after layer of morality of the characters as each side uses more low-handed methods. Example: The manager puts pressure on his assistant with promises of promotion, and that assistant stoops to prostituting his girl friend with the head man of Yamoto. But that's only a taste. As the story progresses, you will be surprised to what lengths the rivals go.
The cinematography of this film noir complements excellent staging by the director to underscore the tawdry activities of businesses competing with no holds barred. The director made good use of dark hallways at critical points in the narrative, for example. There is a constant feeling of confinement and near desperation, with the possible exception that the project manager remains quite determined to win by gradually becoming more and more ruthless.
The acting is flawless. The music score in this one is relatively subdued, using natural sound and silence to add tension.
Thematically, most every theme is revealed through action. But in the final reel, there is more direct confrontation centering on the moral aspects of saving the company by any means. Plus the alternatives are illustrated by the contrast between the choices of the project manager and his assistant. Similarly, throughout the film, we see how a variety of different people react as they are touched by the espionage.
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