Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 09/28/02 03:50:05

"You know a film sucks when they won't show the critics."
1 stars (Total Crap)

And boy, does this film suck. This sucks like The Punisher sucked. It sucks like Judge Dredd sucked. It sucks like the network TV version of Mallrats sucked. Yes folks, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever sucks even worse than it's title. If you can make heads or tails of this contrived, meaningless John Woo rip-off, then more power to you. So far as this judge is concerned, it felt like the Chow Yun Fat movie you make when Chow Yun Fat tells you he's too busy to come out and play.

I think I can cut this story up into one sentence for you. Alcoholic former super-agent is brought back to find femme super-agent because she kidnapped a boy, only it's drunken former super-agent's boy really, only somehow now it's not his boy at all, it's femme super-agent's boss' boy.. or something. I don't know, pretend it makes sense and move on.

Antonio Ban-day-yas is drunken former super-agent. He gets to be in one of those fantastic cliched, "We need you, agent, you're the only option we have left" speeches. Oh, and he hasn't shaved since 1972 apparently. Why is he sad? His wife's gone missing or something. Not surprised, the dude would have been leaving wicked bad whisker burns. It's a ridiculous cliche, but just pretend it makes sense.

And then there's Lucy Liu (who sounds like a square dance - ("take your partner by the hand, Lucy Liu her, round and round"), queen ass kicking super female agent. She has the kidnapped boy, who for some reason has been injected with some sort of super robotic killer frog thing. She's being chased by the law, but rather than escape she prefers to stick around and kill every last officer, doing multi-million dollar damage to downtown Vancouver in the process. She tells innocent civilians to run, but she shoots cops just doing their job. I dunno, just pretend it makes sense.

Then there's the director, Kaos. Yes, that's right, Kaos. His real name is Wych Kaosayananda, so I can understand his desire to shorten things somewhat. Stand by for M.Night Shyamalan to shorten his name to Shy-M sometime soon. Kaos'big problem is that he loves to blow shit up, but he doesn't really have any reason to, so he just makes up reasons. Bullets blow up cars and disintegrate concrete, but they never actually hit a target unless they're fired by Ban-day-has or Liu-ser. She on the other hand could throw a pebble at a stop sign and it would set off a chain reaction that results in sixteen police cars becoming fireballs.

One particularly cool, if completely useless, shot comes when Kaos Theory has the camera follow a dead policeman falling off a building. Not content with a simple drop, we see the flailing policeman the whole way down as the camera tracks down the building and stops when he splats on the roof of a car. What is this guy, a violence freak? Did the kitten torturing scenes get cut out to achieve an PG-13 rating?

This is all unjustified silliness, from start to finish. Ban-day-has is nigh incomprehensible throughout the film, Liu says about three words, the bad guys meld into each other to become a general feeling of paranoia that everyone is in actual fact the bad guy, and the climactic finish gives you the feel that they ran out of LPG to blow up after the first hour.

A big budget doesn't normally bring a result this hokey, but when you're essentially making a Hong Kong Chow Yun Fat movie without Chow Yun Fat and without Hong Kong actors and crew, it becomes harder to excuse the cliches that have been present in every Chow Yun Fat movie since the dawn of time. Slow-mo flying bullet cases is expected with the Fat, but when Lucy Liu is dishing them up (or worse, Ban-day-has) it just cries out 'wannabe'.

From start to finish, this is one dumb movie. It gave me the 'leave early' urge that only the Master of Disguise and FearDotCom have given me so far this year. Rank it up there amongst the true wastes of time Hollywood has ever foisted upon an unsuspecting public. And for God's sake, fire whoever approved that title.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.