Dragon Heat and The Viral Factor

Two Hong Kong action flicks edited by Chung Wai-Chiu, a fact I only bring up because one of them was so shockingly edited we had to IDMB the editor afterwards. Here we go …

Dragon Heat

A Hong Kong action movie staring Michael Biehn! What could go wrong?

… a lot. Luckily, this was the kind of movie that was hilarious while it was being awful. It suffered from an excess of characters (six good guys, plus miscellaneous cops to serve as canon-fodder; four bad guys on one team, two bad guys on another, plus miscellanous flunkies and an ex-girlfriend). The movie did make an effort to introduce most of them … with little introduction cards and characteristic dramatic shots. (The characteristic dramatic shots get used again whenever a character does something especially cool.) There were also title cards for each ‘chapter’ of the movie.

Dragon Heat is one of the most incoherently edited films I have ever scene. If you can think of an editing technique, it’s in here. (At one point, L asked me why I was complaining about a bizarrely placed fade when we’d just crosscut between the present-day action scene and a black-and-white clip of the character’s signature dramatic shot. The answer is, because it was just another unnecessary thing.)

At first, L and I were impressed that the bad guys were actually decent shots – but it turned out that only applied to people other than our heroes. We were told – in the introductions, and in a particularly memorable scene featuring a duck-shooting game – that our heroes were good shots, but we never saw any evidence of this outside of the duck-shooting game. (Later, there is a close-range sniper battle!)

There was also a cringe-worthy moment when the only woman on our team of heroes actually killed one of the bad guys (no-one had managed it till then; you have to pretend it’s a cop’s job to kill bad guys to watch this movie) and she takes a moment to smile goofily at the team sniper who has a crush on her. They have a *moment*.

… and then Nikita shoots her in the head.

(I’m kidding, it’s not Nikita. It’s Maggie Q playing a much less competent female assassin! And being wasted in general.)

The rest of the team get a little moment of bonding-in-grief, and we move on. Luckily, she wasn’t one of the characters we were expected to care about.

Sadly, I don’t think I ever managed to care about any of them. Which, given the size of the cast, isn’t really a surprise.

The Viral Factor

I watched this while I was in Malaysia, but it turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat, so I feel like I should talk about it now. Unlike Dragon Heat, this movie seemed competently edited.

This is one of the many movies I watched while I was in Malaysia; I’m talking about it now because turns out it was edited by the same guy who edited Dragon Heat. This surprised me, because The Viral Factor seemed competently edited.

The Viral Factor is the sort of movie that is competent without ever achieving anything greater. The region 4 DVD case is misleading – it makes the movie seem far more action-y than it actually is. Which isn’t to say there’s no action, but at its heart this is a drama about two brothers on opposite sides of the law. It wasn’t until I realised that that I actually started to enjoy the movie.

The action plotline was the least memorable part – someone had manufactured a virus in order to make money selling the vaccines; Jay Chou had to stop it. Also Jay Chou was dying. Also he’d just been reunited with his estranged gambling addict father and criminal brother, and met his criminal brother’s adorable daughter. Awkward family bonding! Things resolved much as you’d expect them to, and I teared up at the end.

The only action scene that really stuck with me was the car chase, and that was for the wrong reasons. See, they were in KL at that point. And I’d just been in KL. More specifically, I’d just been in a KL traffic jam. And I had trouble suspending my disbelief that the roads would ever be that clear.

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