Review: SWITCH 天机.富春山居图 (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Review: SWITCH 天机.富春山居图 (2013)

Let's drink this poison together to celebrate for our awfully-reviewed movie.
A jaw-dropping disappointment beyond belief, SWITCH is a terrible mess that fails miserably to live up its massive hype as the Chinese version of the James Bond movie.

Blessed with a blockbuster-sized budget, recognizable stars (Andy Lau, Zhang Jingchu and Lin Chi-Ling), exotic locations, lavish sets, and a crowd-pleasing premise of the James Bond-like espionage action thriller, SWITCH seems like a surefire winner (at least in the China box-office which is currently raked at about 250 million yuan so far) but the movie itself is universally panned by (all) critics. Upon finally watching it, SWITCH is clearly one of the worst big-budget Chinese blockbuster movies I've ever seen in recent memory.


The movie centers on a suave Hong Kong special agent Xiao Jinhan (Andy Lau), who is assigned to retrieve two halves of the precious Yuan Dynasty painting "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains". The first half is stolen from the Taipei's National Palace Museum, while the other half is on display at Hangzhou's Zhejiang Art Museum in China. Complicating matters is Toshio Yamamoto (Tong Dawei), the grandson of a Japanese general who died trying to steal that precious painting during WWII, and now he wants it badly by dispatching his team of femme fatale assassins to get the job done. Then there's Jinhan's wife, Yuyan (Zhang Jingchu), who is an insurance company executive tasked to safeguard the painting's other half in the Zhejiang Art Museum. That's not all, a foxy temptress named Lisa (Lin Chi-Ling) is send over by Yamamoto to seduce Xiao Jinhan, at which both of them ends up unexpectedly fall in love for each other.

In his feature-directing debut, Jay Sun knows well how to beautify his picture with lots of lavish sets and eye-popping visual until it really feels like watching a full-length promotional video for tourism board. Both Zhang Jingchu and Lin Chi-Ling (especially she has to wear more than 30 different body-hugging outfits throughout the movie!) are gorgeous enough to look at as they are lovingly shot by Sun and his cinematographer Shao Dan.

If SWITCH is targeted as a commercial or promotional video for tourism board, Sun has certainly done his job well. But this is supposed to be a movie, which is frankly, Sun doesn't have the slightest clue at all how to execute a decent or at least a worthwhile piece of cinematic entertainment. First of all, the plot is unnecessarily convoluted and it's especially difficult to follow because of its terribly disjointed editing. Even the star-studded cast is a huge letdown. Andy Lau looks hopelessly lost in his lead role as a so-called suave special agent; Zhang Jingchu is simply wasted as Yiyan and it's really a shame that Sun fails to utilize her great acting ability because he only cares about her outer beauty; and Tong Dawei is laughably bad as a cold-blooded Japanese villain. But of all the cast, it was Lin Chi-Ling that fares the worst. No doubt she is a stunning presence, but her acting ability is equivalent to a flower vase. Although she does attempt to emote a lot, her character feels largely unconvincing especially when she involves in many romantic scenes with Andy Lau. The action is incoherent as well, with the so-called Dubai-set sequence (which is often compared with the similar Dubai set-piece in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL) fails to ignite a certain joy of excitement. Like everything else, Sun doesn't know how to stage an effective action scene. If that's not damaging enough, most of the action scenes are badly affected by poorly-rendered CGI.

Mr. Sun, I have a special set of skills. I will find you, and I will hunt you down.

Clocking at slightly more than two hours, SWITCH is seriously a frustrating experience to sit through. Even if viewed this as a guilty-pleasure entertainment, it fails to qualify as one. Instead, SWITCH is a pure rubbish. Avoid this at all cost.

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