Review: CRIMES OF PASSION 一場風花雪月的事 (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review: CRIMES OF PASSION 一場風花雪月的事 (2013)

1 star
Despite the suggestive title, CRIMES OF PASSION is hardly a passionate romantic thriller, but rather a near-lifeless effort ruined by a poor script and weak acting.

Prior to the cinema release of CRIMES OF PASSION in China last year, the only movie I have seen from Gao Qunshu's directorial effort was the 2009 spy thriller he co-directed with Chen Kuo-Fu in THE MESSAGE. That particular movie was an ambitious mix of an old-fashioned spy thriller with Agatha Christie-like whodunit style. I didn't get my chance to watch his last movie, BEIJING BLUES, a critically-acclaimed cop drama which famously won Best Feature Film at the prestigious Golden Horse Film Awards in 2012. Then along came his long-delayed latest movie CRIMES OF PASSION which left me surprisingly cold after finally watching it.


Based on the 1997 popular Mainland drama A Sentimental Story starring Xu Jinglei, which is actually adapted from Hai Yan's novel, this big screen version revolves around the Major Crimes unit of Mainland police force trying to recover the missing national treasure known as the Golden Buddha statuette. Apparently the Golden Buddha has fallen into the hands of a Hong Kong-based Korean triad runs by the Kim family. After the Major Crimes unit rescue Kim's youngest son, Jeong-Hui (Jae Hee) from getting killed by the rival Japanese gang, who has been hiding somewhere in Shenzhen, Captain Wu Lichang (Wei Zi) assigned senior detective Xue Yu (Huang Xiaoming) and rookie cop Lu Yueyue (Angelababy) to protect him in hope they can get Jeong-Hui to reveal the whereabouts of the Golden Buddha. Yueyue is particularly chosen for the case because she's the only one in the Major Crimes unit who has the bilingual skill to communicate with Jeong-Hui. Things get complicated when Lu Yueyue gets too close with Jeong-Hui and both of them start to develop feelings for each other, which in turn, made Xue Yu jealous of their relationship.

Veteran Hong Kong cinematographer Arthur Wong shows some promise in the movie, particularly during the opening credit scene where his camerawork moves down from the bird's-eye view of the cloud and glides past the Shenzhen skyscrapers before it dissolves through the Major Crimes unit headquarters.

The 10-minute elaborate car chase scene on the highway is the only time I feel a sense of adrenaline rush in this otherwise tedious movie.

The screenplay, written by Huo Xin and Gao Qunshu, is sadly incompetent as they fail either way to blend mixed genres of cop thriller and romantic drama effectively. Apart from the car chase scene, the movie is mostly devoid of worthy action and suspense. The crime element, which centres on the missing case of the Golden Buddha statuette, is hardly engaging and seriously lack of dramatic flair. Even the romantic angle, which supposed to be the major plot point of the movie, is equally a huge letdown as well.

But the biggest disappointment of all is the three leads. Angelababy is particularly miscast as a Major Crimes rookie cop Lu Yueyue. While she is photogenic enough to look at, the same cannot be said with her lacklustre acting skill. It's especially difficult to root for her because Lu Yueyue is depicted as a weak and mostly immature, yet unprofessional character who easily gets manipulated and seduced by Jeong-Hui. Worst still, she doesn't have the look and the overall appearance to pull off the kind of role convincingly. Angelababy's real-life lover, Huang Xiaoming, doesn't do much other than spending most of the time showing up with a brooding face. South Korean actor Jae Hee (best known in Kim Ki-Duk's 3-IRON) delivers bland performance as Jeong-Hui and he is especially out of depth when he requires to communicate with Angelababy's character most of the time in stilted English.

Adding further disappointment is the anticlimactic, yet sleep-inducing finale set in the rural surroundings of Shangri-La in the Yunnan province.


It's hard to believe that CRIMES OF PASSION is actually directed by the same guy whom I admired before from his fascinating effort in THE MESSAGE. Instead of something worthwhile, this is the kind of lame movie that really test one's patience over the course of nearly two-hour length.

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