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The Touch is Michelle Yeoh's first movie as producer, executive producer and
writer (as well as star), and the first movie from her new production
company. Now Michelle Yeoh is a smart and sensible woman (and she can kick
ass with the best), so expectations for this big budget production with
Peter Pau in the director's chair were naturally high - certainly I had high
hopes for it. That changed when it came out and it seemed to be universally
acclaimed a major disappointment. I almost decided to pass it over
completely, but you know sometimes you have to see a certain movie even if
you know it's going to be bad, 'cause it's still a 'significant' or
'important' film in some sense.
Thanks to all the negative press, my expectations for the movie were much lower when I sat down to watch it. I mean, we're talking the kind of expectations that make The Blacksheep Affair look like a good film... so it's not really a surprise that I found myself enjoying The Touch. But I mean I found myself *really* enjoying it. A lot!
First with the bad, the reasons people were presumably disappointed. There are some very cheesy moments in places, moments and lines that feel too artificially inserted, too 'script'. There's some bad acting in places - some from the bad guy's goons but most notably from Brandon Chang, who plays Michelle's younger brother (his girlfriend was pretty bad too, but she didn't have as much chance to show it). And most notably there are some really terrible special effects in the final climax - about 15 years out of date
But then with the good! First surprise, it's really funny! Most of the humour comes from the guest Gwei Los Ben Chaplin and Richard Roxburgh, both of whom have really good characters and some brilliant lines. They also break a long tradition of white actors in HK films by being really good, and not at all annoying. Richard Roxburgh's villain in particular is a charismatic classic. Then there's the story, which is all quite cheesy but reasonably involved and well developed. It's a good old fashioned adventure yarn. And then there's the production values... especially the great sets and locations filmed beautifully by Peter Pau. The soundtrack is really good too, though it sounds very Hollywood (I'm not normally a fan of Hollywood's overblown and generally forgettable soundtracks, but I like this one).
It must be said that The Touch does in many ways feel more like a Hollywood movie than a Hong Kong movie - the fact that it is 95% filmed in English undoubtedly being part of it. Hong Kong film makers normally fail miserably when they attempt to make a Hollywood style movie, but I think that this case represents a near success. If it weren't for those dreadful special effects I think it would have a very good chance of competing on the Hollywood distribution circuits. And I believe the production company have taken the unusual step of hiring a different firm (the normally excellent Centro) to completely redo the special effects for a US release. This may be one case where the US version of a HK movie actually improves on the original.
One thing that is expected of a Hong Kong movie starring Michelle Yeoh is obviously a high calibre of action. This is perhaps where the movie disappoints, as there isn't as much action in the film as I expect most viewers would have liked. There are a couple of fight scenes that show off Michelle's skills well, but Philip Kwok's choreography isn't all that exciting unfortunately. Not bad, but not up to the standard of Michelle's fights in Royal Warriors, for example. Especially disappointing is the final climax, which should have been a raw bone crunching showcase of martial arts prowess but is in fact a limp showcase of terrible CGI. Bad call to go the special effects route, Michelle!
If I hadn't had my expectations lowered by those who saw the movie before me, I guess there's a fair chance I'd have ended up disappointed in The Touch too. Because I wasn't expecting too much I found much more to enjoy than I bargained for. In fact, I'd say I enjoyed the movie more than any other 2002 Hong Kong movie I can think of (not saying much admittedly, since 2002 was a terrible year for HK movies). It's a movie I will happily watch again (though I'll wait for the US release perhaps) and have no hesitation recommending to others.
I managed to catch the premier of Datuk Michelle Yeoh's film during its
premier in Malaysia on August 1st. I can say that Datuk Yeoh has done a
wonderful job, as a producer and also as the main lead in this film.
The Touch tells the tale of a relic treasure known as the Sharira which is said to contain the pure essence of a Buddhist Holy Man. To protect this great treasure, the Monks of Dun Huang hid it. When the time has come to retrieve it, the monks turned to a family of acrobats. For hundreds of years, the family trained, passing on the skills required to retrieve the Sharira when the time comes.
Yin Fei (Datuk Yeoh) and her brother Tong (Brandon Chang in his debut), are the heirs to the skills of the long lineage of acrobats. One fateful day, Eric (Ben Chaplin), a man who used to be Yin's old flame shows up with the Heart of Dun Huang, a medallion which is the key to unlocking the secret location of the Sharira. Together, they embark on a perilous journey to discover what Yin's ancestors once guarded. And what do you know, there is always the rich, merciless, unscrupulous man, Karl(Richard Roxburgh), who will stop at nothing to get his greedy hands on the prized treasure.
Pretty much your average treasure hunter movies with a little touch of Indiana Jones. There is almost a Tomb Raider reference when Karl offered Yin his resources to find the Sharira together. Fortunately, Yin just rejected his offer by kickin' his butt. By far, the scenes featured in the film were breathtaking ( China and Tibet ), thanks to director Peter Pau, who also doubles as the film's cinematographer. Action scenes were well pulled off and linked using spectacular special effects. Just don't miss the 'fight' scene between Yin and Tong in the beginning of the movie which is just reminescence of the fight between the Monkey God and Na Za.
Brandon Chang who had just made his debut in this film, may one day be the next Jet Li. It is heard that his now under Datuk Yeoh's tutelage in martial arts and Kung Fu. Datuk Yeoh, after the phenomenal success of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , still manage to captivate the audiences with her acting and also her butt kickin'.
Way to go Datuk Yeoh!!
Unoriginal, poorly produced, poorly acted, and ultimately disappointing,
this film takes the beautifully orchestrated acrobatic moves of Crouching
Tiger (not to mention the leading lady), but executes them with an
awkwardness surpassed only by the overused blue-screen and
computer-generated special effects. Some of the action scenes were well
done, but as a whole, it failed to bring anything more than what most
low-grade action films offer.
The many attempts to inject humor into the film, via the classic "moronic American idiot" who bumbles around the film acting like he just left the set of latest Police Academy installment, is so out of place that it annoyinging disrupts the flow of the film and leaves the audience to wonder, "what the hell is that guy doing in this movie?"
Perhaps most disappointing were the performances of the two lead characters, who after promising roles in "Crouching Tiger" and "Birthday Girl" seemed to have settled for whatever script was tossed their way.
I rated this film a 4. It was compelling enough that I stayed to see the ending, but in the end, I wish that I hadn't. Utterly forgettable and disappointing...
"The Touch" is an adventure movie in the tradition of "Raiders of the
Lost Ark". It tells the story of a Chinese family of artists who
specialized in difficult jumps for many generations. Only such a jump,
seeming impossible to anyone else, will make it possible to obtain a
holy treasure. Two family members are kidnapped by a treasure hunter
(Richard Roxburgh) to get the treasure for him. Yin (Michelle Yeoh),
being the head of the family after the demise of her father, pursues
them into the desert.
Genre movie without big surprises, but well made (except for the final fight which looks like computer game inspired green screen effects), featuring a female star who successfully avoids any Lara Croft similarities and uses her scarf both as a weapon and a swing rope. "The Touch" was shot in places where nobody else was allowed to film before. The landscapes of Tibet are impressive and make the movie more memorable than the thin plot deserves.
My name is Jo. I live in BKK. I've already seen the movie here in Thailand and I think it's great especially the Tibetan part. I'd say well done to Michelle Yeoh because she has done such a good job. I'm impressed. Keep on going, Michelle! We love you. This is a greeting from your fans in Thailand. " JO & FRIENDS "
I just saw The Touch at a theater here in China. That movie is fantastic !! Michelle Yeoh is great, amazingly charismatic, beautiful, and a remarkable martial artist. Ben Chaplin is great too, really at ease and perfectly believable. the movie itself is an amazing adventure flick, very funny by moments, and with an intense ending. Don't miss it, really !
As a huge fan of Michelle Yeoh, I was waiting with baited breath to see a beautifully photographed movie with her as the star. An English language movie that was supposed to have world-wide appeal, proof to everyone that she had the true star power she already had for me and many others. While the photography was gorgeous and her strength in the lead role was obvious, the story was weak. Worse yet, the action scenes seemed too slow and "choreographed-looking." The attempts at humor were not only poor, but got really annoying. Worst of all, Michelle played the role of a wonderfully dynamic, good-hearted, woman who still loves a heel, a former love and father of their son. Ben Chaplin does a good job of playing the role of a self-centered, unreliable, untrustworthy crook with absolutely no redeeming value. I know in real life lots of women love the worst men, so there's no escapism here. But this movie makes it look like its cool to be a jerk, making it all the harder to watch. I bought the DVD for my Michelle collection. How many times I'll be able to watch it, I don't know.
One of the classic fantasy quest novels of ancient China serves as the
for this film's story: JOURNEY TO THE WEST by Wu Cheng En. In it, the
Buddhist Monk/Scholar Xuanzang accomplishes a pilgrimage to India with the
help of three magical creatures: a powerful immortal monkey with an
anti-authoritarian streak, a humanoid boar of immense power, gullibility
appetite and an even-tempered warrior monk. The same source material was
inspiration for anime like Dragonball Z.
In this case, The Touch starts off cleverly, and sort of creates the impression that it is a latter-day sequel to the novel especially in one of the fights that opens the movie: a re-creation of the famous scene in the novel where the Monkey duels with a hot-tempered Boy-God with the ability to manipulate fire. And with the fact that it is the Sharira (or crystal essence) of the Monk that is the motive for all the characters' actions. But it fails to cover this much further, sags in the middle and soon becomes a cliched and predictable adventure film featuring a booby-trapped room, fire, Tarzan-swinging and "leaps of faith".
Performances wise Michelle Yeoh is Michelle Yeoh, always up to snuff in her physical stunts and emotional nuances but set back by her grating Cantonese-Malayan inflections when speaking Mandarin and English. Ben Chaplin continues his trend of playing second fiddle to A-list females, from Winona Ryder, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman to Michelle Yeoh. He's just the kind of guy A-list women like to have in their movies because he looks positively impotent. Richard Roxburgh seems to have walked in thinking he was going to act in a Shakespearean stage play and pretty much plays his stock villain character larger-than-life with hammy delivery.
Cinematography is first-rate, and the music is surprisingly pleasing, and that's about all. The story is weak, predictable and has the depth of a Disney cartoon. Characters are one-dimensional and stock. Peter Pau can handle visuals though what he's done is virtually retreading old ground, but as a director he still lacks vision and the ability to astonish emotionally. Any astonishment is mainly from the way he handles visuals, rarely from timing or the way he works on the imagination. A triumph of set design over plot this is, but what set design, and what cinematography!
Overall this movie is an elegantly-shot with potential for greatness, but just becomes little more than a passably entertaining, shortchanging adventure by the end.
Rating: 5.6 out of 10
I do not have any idea why so many people posted adverse reviews of
this movie. In any movie that has martial arts in it you have to let
your self be carried into the theme. The same can be said for many
other types of movies as well.
The Touch is a beautiful movie. Everything about it's imagery brings back a feeling of days gone by when big Hollywood pictures made their audience gasp at the beauty or the vastness for just a few examples.
This has special effects that look great. The story is interesting instead of just an excuse for martial arts to happen. We thought the idea and the way it was portrayed was wonderful and commanding. You can get lost in watching this movie as you care more and more about the characters and the problems they must handle. Dane Cook is even in there for a little extra humor to even things out, and does a very good job.
The story for it's type is believable and the people populating it deal with real life as well as the mystical world. One reviewer said that the love interest was a thief and was put off by that.
People sometimes change and learn and bond during rites of movie passage. Sometimes in real life the same thing can happen on a smaller scale.
I have never written a review before but I found myself needing to take up for this beautiful movie. I love it. My husband loves it. My only problem is that we rented it and the second disk is not included, so we are missing some of the specials. Perhaps even a commentary that is all in English, because the disk we have has one that is in a mixture of languages that is hard to follow.
This is a lovely film. In scope, in imagery, in story and in the of acting that brings forth that story. It is a film to cherish and watch many times.
As a fan of Yeoh's films, I desperately felt I needed to see this film,
I was impressed with the trailer but then it all led to disappointment
when I saw the film. I was aware that the film was receiving bad
reviews but when I saw it, it was not as bad as I thought it was but
there were some major faults.
The use of incredible locations in the film was a plus, the story line sounded perfect for an adventure film and there was that wonderful combination of action, romance and comedy
I felt that one of the main flaws with the film was the ensemble of actors; though they do look good in their roles, the way they portrayed their characters was rather poor.
Yeoh's performance was not of a satisfactory level, but provided she got to use some martial arts in the film, I was happy.
Ben Chaplin, who plays Eric,provides most of the comic relief for the film, particularly when he attempts to sing a love song in Mandarin Chinese but forgets the words half way through the song. I am still wondering whether the character Bob was even meant to be funny at all as he was just pathetic throughout the film.
Brandon Chang and Margaret Wang who play Lily and Tong are newcomers, of all the actors in the film, their performances were the most disappointing; my reason is mainly that when they spoke, it sounded as if they were on a "lets talk English programme", they were expressionless and bland with their acting.
Another flaw was the use of special effects in the film, particularly in the climax that takes place in the burning cave, at the beginning of the scene, the flames looked real, but whoever was in charge of the cinematography made a huge mistake after applying the flames because the fire looked incredibly fake afterwards as well as a list of other faults concerning the CGI.
Despite the faults outweighing the good points, I did enjoy the film, but it was merely average.
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