If you picked up Michelle Yeoh’s “Silver Hawk” expecting something serious, then you’re out of luck. The movie, directed by Jingle Ma (“Tokyo Raiders”), is all camp. After the average “The Touch”, one should invest very little expectations for Yeoh’s latest. As expected, “Silver Hawk” lays the camp on thick and fast, only pausing to throw in one of those over-the-top melodramatic moments all Asian filmmakers are genetically programmed to include, lest their Asian Filmmaker Cards be revoked.
Taking place in the near future, Yeoh plays Lulu, an heiress who uses her fortune to become the female version of Bruce Wayne. Instead of donning a cape and cowl Lulu prefers funky and highly stylish silver threads in her neverending quest to fight crime. Or at least she fights a lot of random people who happen to be doing criminal-like things. In any case, Silver Hawk meets up with Ren (Richie Ren) during a trip back from Mainland China, where she just foiled a panda-theft ring. Ren, it turns out, is an old crush of Lulu’s from her days at a Shaolin temple where both attended, even though Ren shows little ability to actually fight.
We fly back to Silver Hawk’s homestead, called Polaris City. (Director Jingle Ma has a thing for naming things “Polaris” in his movies, including the movie “Fly Me to Polaris”.) As Movie Coincidence dictates, we learn that Ren is taking over a division of the police charged with capturing Silver Hawk. Although why anyone would trust an entire division to the bumbling, half-moron Ren is a bit of a mystery. In any case, Daming Chen plays a professor who has invented a high-tech doohickey that can read minds and tell people what to do (or something along that line). After Chen is kidnapped by criminal mastermind Wolfe (Luke Goss, “Blade 2″), Silver Hawk suits up to do battle. And oh yeah, Ren runs around acting like a half-moron.
As mentioned, “Silver Hawk” plays out as mostly camp, which explains why a black van can go around kidnapping people in front of the police in broad daylight and the only person who can track it down is a chick in a silver uniform riding a motorcycle. Remember, this is the future. Everyone wears groovy handless phones and there are holograms all over the place, so one would think the cops have improved along with society. And since the streets of “Silver Hawk” seem to always be deserted, you’d think tracking a lone black van would be a simple process. Also, for someone with a secret identity, Lulu is pretty flippant about that whole “secret” part.
Directed by Jingle Ma, the man behind such lackluster fare as “Hot War” and “Tokyo Raiders”, “Silver Hawk” has plenty of action to keep one from being completely bored. That is, unless you want innovative or thrilling action, in which case “Hawk” won’t satisfy. Although Yeoh is known for her martial arts, there’s just nothing very new or particularly exceptional about the fisticuffs here. There are plenty of elaborate action set pieces, but they’re all clunkers. Of course it doesn’t help that “Silver Hawk” is shot with a silver metallic tint (“silver” hawk, get it?) that gets a bit tedious after a while.
“Silver Hawk” is obviously an expensive film. Although I suspect that the entire thing was shot in some Mainland China setting that has “futuristic” aesthetics. Nonetheless, the film seems to go overboard on the CGI and computer stuff, with holograms popping up all over the place for some odd reason. Not that I dislike CGI and computer stuff, but it all comes across as gratuitous here. But of course you’re not supposed to take a movie like “Hawk” too seriously, because no one in the picture seems to be. At one point Ren dresses up in drags to capture Silver Hawk. The sequence involves hilarity and hi-jinx — that is, unless you’re not 10 years old, in which case it’ll just be juvenile.
The best I can say about “Silver Hawk” is that it’s a harmless enough movie, although one wishes it had taken its premise a bit more seriously. For instance, why is Lulu only happy when she dons the costume and kicks butt? Why does Ren go around calling himself “Ren the Rich Man” when he’s just a cop — and not even a very good one at that? And what happened to Lulu’s Alfred? There was a female character that was also Lulu’s assistant who helped Lulu fight crime. At least for the first 15 minutes, after which point the character just vanished and was replaced by a teenager who worshipped Silver Hawk and worked for the kidnapped professor.
I would have also liked to know more about the enforcer character played by Michael Jai White (“Spawn”), who seems to have some sort of relationship with his partner, a female Asian enforcer. The woman is either Japanese or Chinese, although I can’t be sure because she never utters a line that I can remember. In fact, I don’t think the film even bothers to tell us the names of either White’s character or his partner’s. (Or if they did, I missed it, or just didn’t care enough to pay attention.)
Toward the end of the film, White and the Asian chick just sort of walks away from the scene of a violent encounter with the cops, while the police watches on. This, mind you, after the duo have beaten up dozens of cops and performed two kidnappings in broad daylight! You know, law enforcement in the future just isn’t what it used to be…
Jingle Ma (director) / Susan Chan, Jingle Ma (screenplay)
CAST: Michelle Yeoh …. Huang Lulu
Luke Goss …. Alexander Wolfe
Brandon Chang …. Kit
Daming Chen …. Professor Ho Chung
Kouichi Iwaki …. Akira Shiraishi