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This is a touching action epic about an all-out war between a subway terrorist who holds a city hostage and the detective who risks his life to save everyone. It's the heart-wrenching story of love and sacrifice that grows in a desperate situation, and the humanity of people trying to save others in the face of extreme danger at breath-taking speeds and on a huge scale. Written by
You don't get me containing my excitement too much for Hong Kong/Japanese/Korean action films. I see a name like John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat or Takeshi Kitano on a movie poster and I break into hives with anticipation. What makes these foreign films better or more appealing than their American counterparts you ask? Well, first and foremost is the style. Our friends from the East have a knack for action sequences. Check out the gunplay in films like Hard Boiled and Shiri and see their influences in the West with films like Face/Off and Heat.
So when the creators of Shiri reunited for a film about a cop on the trail of a madman who has taken over a speeding train, my heart began to pump uncontrollably and pestered my local DVD supplier continually for updates as to the film's North American Release.
The film I am referring is Tube. Directed by first timer Baek Woon-Hak and starring a multitude of hyphenated names that you wouldn't recognize, the movie was about a former assassin for the government that takes over a subway train to persuade his former boss and now mortal enemy to sacrifice his life for the lives of the innocents on board.
Putting a crink in the plans is a rogue cop who has been on the killers trail for many years, and who too is looking for payback for the death of his wife and the loss of a finger in an abbreviated altercation that took place some time in the past.
As demands are made and peaceful solutions examined, people are shot, ambushes are ordered and rail cars are blown up. Everything we would expect from a film of this genre.
It's too bad it doesn't work.
While watching Tube I wondered if the Director and Producers were sitting around one weekend watching American action films and tried to copy what they thought were the best parts from each. The premise is stripped from Under Siege 2 (and if you ever copy a Steven Segal film, you need your head checked), the opening sequence rips of Heat, an attempted rescue on the train was done better in Speed and even films like Apollo 13 and Stallone's Daylight look to have had their scenes stolen directly from the original screenplays.
But stealing from big budget films wasn't the only once noticeable Americanization of the film. Speeches are given when the characters should be acting or reacting to their situations and flashbacks are thrown in to stretch the running time. The soundtrack was overwhelming as is Hans Zimmer was vacationing in Tokyo and had nothing better to do than provide a repeating beat that would bound out of my subwoofer every time we see the train speeding down the track. Even the comic relief in the character of a thug that is handcuffed in one of the rail cars was straight from a Bruckheimer brainstorm. Whoa's me!
My excitement over the films release was quashed like a lake being thrown on a campfire. Everything that made these foreign films unique and pulse pounding was lost to what I can only assume was an attempt to puncture a hole in the lucrative North American video market. I could have cared less about the characters, I felt no attachment to the emotional attachment between the various couples and if you are just going to throw mindless action at me, well then, I hate to say it but give me a Michael Bay film. At least then I know what to expect and don't feel robbed of an afternoon.
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