Here We go, Lucy Liu

So, recently I spent a weekend watching movies starring the woman whose name garners more search engine results for my blog than my own.

Watching the Detectives (2007)

Cillian Murphy plays film buff and video store owner Neil, who is basically a nice guy despite his habit of ditching girlfriends when they don’t match up to the female lead in whatever film he happens to be obsessing on at the moment. Then he meets his match in Lucy’s Violet, who seems to be channelling The Dice Man, plunging him into a world of random activities where nothing is what it seems. Of course he falls in love with her, and after making accommodations for each other’s personal glitches they, presumably, live happily ever after. I couldn’t see much justification for Violet’s interest in Neil or her declaration that he was a wonderful and creative individual (to me he seemed like a pissy little fop, and it always offends my sense of what is right when the not so good guy gets the girl). Similarly, I think Violet was wonderful as a fictional character, but if I met someone who acted like her in real life I’d run a mile even if they did look like Lucy Liu. But while I may not have been entirely taken with the lead characters, I did thoroughly enjoy the movie which was an engaging romantic comedy with a novel premise at its heart, and to be fair their ‘defects’ played well off each other. I liked it, but I didn’t believe in it, and that’s okay.

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Lucy plays Sever, a leather clad, heavily armed and seemingly unstoppable killer who has a beef with her former boss, a bigwig in the intelligence community with his own agenda, and so she kidnaps his step son, who the cad is using to transport a microchip across national boundaries. Unfortunately this sets her on collision course with the boy’s natural father, FBI agent Ecks (Antonio Banderas), who lacks Sever’s fashion sense but is every bit as combative. The two play a game of cat and mouse, managing to shoot everyone around them but not each other, until they realise that actually they’re on the same side and the stage is set for an explosive finale in which they go head to head with the bad guy and his army of innocent minions. It’s the latter that sticks in my craw, as with so many of these action movies – sure, kill the bad guy, but those under his command really believe that they are serving their country and so it’s off putting that the good guys find killing them so easy and morally neutral. But, of course, it’s not that sort of movie, with any soul searching and questions of right and wrong touched on only in passing, while we rush headlong into the next fire fight or series of eye catching explosions. It is what it is, and again I enjoyed it very much, an exciting and pulse pounding thrill ride, while remaining acutely conscious that it is only a movie. Lucy rocks as an action heroine, but we already knew that from Charlie’s Angels, and if this movie lacks that film’s sense of fun it has just as many big bangs for your buck, if not more.

The Man With the Iron Fists (2012)

Without a doubt the craziest of these films. The Lion Clan plan to steal the emperor’s gold when it passes through their town, but first they have to eliminate any rival gangs, and the son of the old leader of the clan (who was killed) is scheming for revenge. A bemused looking Russell Crowe is retired British Army officer Jack Knife, now an undercover agent for the Chinese Emperor, whose name and appetite for prostitutes seem pitched to reel in a possible red herring from Whitechapel. Rapper RZA is the town blacksmith, who forges iron fists for himself when the Lion Clan cut off his hands, and this enables him to tackle their champion, a man who can turn himself into brass (I did mention that this film was crazy). Lucy is Madame Blossom, queen of the local brothel who, at a pivotal moment in the plot, leads her girls into battle with the ninja skills they have honed while not servicing customers. It is a thoroughly ridiculous film, one that possibly falls into the so bad it’s good category. Again, I enjoyed it, but I kind of doubt myself for doing so. It fell between two stools, on the one hand needing a lighter touch, a bit more humour to counteract all the beautifully choreographed fight scenes, or failing that a true sense of drama and tragedy to give the battles some gravitas. As was, it was little more substantial than eye candy, fun to watch in the moment, but not something you’re going to have happy flashbacks to years, or even days, later.

Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

The best of these films by a country mile. Josh Hartnett plays new boy in town Slevin Kelevra who unwittingly gets involved in the rivalry between crime lords The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley). Lucy is Lindsey, the girl across the hall, who provides the romantic interest, but also happens to work in the police crime lab. Nothing is what it at first seems here, with sins of the past paid for in the present, and hovering at the back of it all is an agreeably sinister Bruce Willis as contract killer Mr Goodkat. I loved this movie. It had great performances from all concerned, but especially Willis and the almost comic duo of Freeman and Kingsley. The plot had so many twists and turns watching it felt like playing Twister at times, and the payoff was delightful. Lucy didn’t feature all that much, but her role proved more important than my précis above suggests, and what she did was done exceedingly well.

Okay, that should bring some more search engine results for this blog. Yay!

Anyone else have a favourite Lucy Liu film?


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