The first local production for this year, it's a movie made with an international cast and crew, most notably, Asian film stars in Francis Ng, Ti Lung and Vivian Hsu, with a guest appearance by Harvey Keitel as an Italian mobster. It's no surprise that Raintree Pictures, in a bid to go regional and international, is holding nothing back to attract local and foreign talent to get them involved in locally produced movies. And I guess One Last Dance is such a fine example, helmed by upcoming Brazilian director Max Makowski.
I would liked to have loved this movie wholeheartedly, but it's not an easy movie to follow, especially when it keeps to its tagline that it's a story made up of different jigsaw pieces, each telling a story of its own. There are many seemingly disparate scenes glued together thinly, and it'll be easy for the ordinary viewer, especially one with little patience, to get lost within the plot. The dialogue too seemed stifled, and sometimes you wonder just what the characters are driving at.
The draw of this movie no doubt is Francis Ng. He's the "mental" guy who's truly deft in playing crazed characters, be they good or evil. Here, he's the calm, collected, and uber ruthless hit-man with a penchant for chess and never walks around with a loaded gun. He accepts deals anonymously via red "angpaos" dropped into a mailbox, containing just names of the prey (though you wonder how he actually gets paid). His opposite number is film legend Ti Lung, with whom he spars verbally, and on the chessboard.
Forget about the other stars, as they are mostly bit parts, and the beautiful Vivian Hsu reduced to a pedestrian in a role that could have been played by any mediocre local actress. However, do keep a lookout for Joseph Quek. I'm surprised that he managed to snag a meaty role, and this will mark his second big screen outing after The High Cost of Living. Surely, an actor to keep tabs on, if he stars in subsequent movies.
And I love the music, especially the theme song Broken Orange. It's now my earworm, and it constantly gets played over and over again in my head. The movie opens with the song, though I was perturbed that what was sung totally was out of sync with the English subtitles shown on screen, in an attempt to explain the meaning. Another pity too is that we got to watch the movie in the dubbed Mandarin track instead of its original Cantonese glory. I still rue for the day when HK movies are allowed to be shown in its native tongue, and get classified as a "foreign" movie, as do the French, German, Russian, Japanese, Korean, etc which do not get dubbed at all here.
To make up for a relatively simple plot (when all is finally revealed), the movie relies heavily on its slick editing techniques to splice the narrative together. However, the CGI blood splatterfest seemed too artificial, as I thought the good ol' blood pack will suffice and still maintain certain visual beauty to it all.
It almost lived up to its hype, but if you're a fan of Francis Ng, then my recommendation is to watch it. And don't be a dumb dork - stay until the end of the credits for THE GEM OF A SCENE. Many people during the gala didn't bother, what a pity!
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