The Legend of Zu (2001)

Rating: C-

Dir: Tsui Hark
Star: Ekin Cheng, Louis Koo, Cecilia Cheung, Patrick Tam

Hard to believe Tsui Hark could out-do the level of excess he managed in Time and Tide, yet this manages it. Like spending two hours in a particularly frenzied arcade game, this bludgeons the viewer to the ground with an array of CGI and other effects, drowning the characters and much of the storyline in the process. Visually, it has an amazing level of style, but to stand up against this hyper-mega-uber-ultra-overkill, you need very powerful actors: neither Cheng not Koo fit the bill. Admittedly, trying to play off CGI is tough; however, I’ve seen more powerfully-acted emotion from Sonic the Hedgehog.

Tsui might have been better off using the talent who are relegated to minor roles: Samo Hung vanishes half-way through, Zhang Zi-Yi plays a pointless diversion, and action director Yuen Wo Ping must have been filing his nails for most of the film, such is the reliance on CPU power. And while the plot is little more than good vs. evil, with a “reincarnated love” side-line thrown in, there’s no real villain to speak of, just a malevolent force. If occasional moments work well, such as an army of armoured warriors attacking a temple, there are far more which look like an explosion in someone else’s LSD-induced nightmare. I wouldn’t mind seeing it at the cinema (providing I sat near the back), but much like Dario Argento did, Tsui is in danger of – literally – losing the plot entirely, and vanishing up his own highly-caffeinated cinematography.