Asian Charlie’s Angels (2001) Movie Review

Here’s the odd thing: most of Christy Chung’s co-stars record their dialogue using sync sound, but only Chung’s dialogue is entirely dubbed from beginning to end! It would be interesting to find out why this is the case. I’ve seen Chung in numerous non-Chinese films, like the Thai movie “Jan Dara”, so maybe the reason why all her lines are dubbed is because her Chinese wasn’t up to par? For that matter, I’m not even sure if Chung dubs the lines herself, since her dialogue seems to be all over the place and never matches up with her lips. Was she even in the same room with the video footage when she did the dubbing? And yes, this little idle thought is pretty much the only thing that kept me interested during this 90-minute TV pilot.

Here’s the other thing about “Asian Charlie’s Angels”: I can’t tell the other two angels apart! I know that Christy Chung plays Angie, a reporter who gets mixed up with a serial killer targeting successful women, but there are two other women and they both have Chinese names in the movie. And since I only have IMDB.com to go by (which, I have to say, I’m slowly but surely losing faith in, having been mislead by the site on numerous occasions just this year alone), I’m not quite sure who plays the other two angels. It doesn’t help that both women look very much alike, not to mention having the same build and hairstyle. I do know that one seems to like banging randomly on the keyboard (er, computer typing), while the other one seems to be a tad ditzy, although she did beat up a bunch of guys in an elevator and giggled about it.

With a serial killer on the loose, the Asian Charlie (some guy on a TV monitor with his face blurred out) calls his two girls in to work the case. They team up with reporter Angie, although reluctantly at first. The killer, it turns out, is a food critic who is also in love with Angie. And oh yeah, he cooks every chance he gets. Even when he’s talking on the phone. What? Just go with it. Considering the Hong Kong film industry’s propensity for thievery, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that “Asian Charlie’s Angels” has no formal association with the American show from which it is obviously adapted. By pilot’s end, Angie has joined Charlie’s private investigation team to make the threesome official.

The pilot was shown in 2001, and I don’t know if a series ever manifested itself. If you haven’t realized it by now, “Asian Charlie’s Angels” is bad. Not just bad, but corny and, well, just really bad. Even Chubby, the Hong Kong version of Bosley, doesn’t do much except take up space. (He’s also fat, if his nickname didn’t give it away already.) The show opens with the type of montage that the original TV show was known for (which was later aped by the feature length film version in 2000), and then the same exact scenes are later re-used. The pilot is actually stitched together from two 45-minute episodes. Most of the second episode is spent with the angels investigating a shady fashion designer and his psychotic secretary. Another amusing thing about the pilot is seeing how much crazier the actress playing the secretary can get.

The action here is of the poorly staged variety. Meaning that the director instructs the actors (usually the 3 female leads) to pose with their fist against someone’s face, then zoom in for a close-up, shoot the scene, and then repeat the process with another of the ladies’ body part against another body part of the victims. There’s even a ridiculous scene where two of the angels, dressed in all-black commando bodysuits (re: stunt doubles), invade a house and bug it. The rest consists of a lot of flashing skin, but nothing of note. The murders are also quite tame. (This is TV after all.)

“Asian Charlie’s Angels” is a terrible pilot. It’s also not much to look at. I believe the entire thing was shot with a high-end Super VHS (or something similar). And again, the sound is atrocious throughout. I don’t think there was a single time that Chung’s dialogue ever synced up with her lips. Not once. Although I shouldn’t really pick on her, because the entire pilot is like that. Sometimes we get scenes where one person’s dialogue is sync, but the other person he/she is talking to has their voice dubbed over. (If you’re wondering, the sound is sync when the dialogue is filled with echoes, because that’s the background ambiance they can’t filter out.)

The whole idea behind the show and its execution are really mystifying. But since “Asian Charlie’s Angels” is as poor as TV pilots get, the case of the mysterious dubbing is the only entertainment you’ll liable to find.

On the other hand, the three angels are definitely easy on the eyes, even if they are less convincing than Barrymore et al in the “let’s pretend we can fight” department.

Michael Mak (director) / Pat Fiedler (screenplay)
CAST: Christy Chung …. Angie
Kelly Lin …. Cindy
Annie Wu …. Annabelle
Qu Ying …. Betty


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