Saviour of the Soul
A wonderful concoction of futuristic stylized
sets, slick action, and colorful characters in a film that does not take
itself too seriously at all. This is built around a paper-thin plot that
seems to exist only for the purpose of displaying great fashion sense and
cartoon like action.
In the opening scene Silver Fox (Aaron Kwok) rescues
a fellow comrade from prison in which he kills scores of guards (though
in an amazingly poor special effect the fact that these are mannequins
having their heads decapitated is very apparent!). Both Silver Fox and
his colleague are members of an assassin group called the Blue Dragon Society.
The friend has previously been blinded in a fight with Anita Mui who along
with Andy Lau and Kenny Bee form a rival assassination for hire group.
Silver Fox promises to get revenge for his friend and that is what the
rest of the film is about.
This is a film that is almost entirely style over
substance, but what style and what fun it is. Lots of flying about, sword
fighting, inventive weapons and beautiful women. The Pet Lady (Carina Lau)
is one of my favorite characters from HK film. I love the moment when she
and her maidens fly/crash through the glass. Gloria Yip also has a role
as the younger sister of Kenny Bee. That is also Anita Mui in a double
role as her wacky sister who invents the "breathless bullet".
My rating for this film: 8.5
Reviewed by YTSL
Contrary to the opinion of some of the people
who know about my being a Hong Kong moviephile, there are some films from
that part of the world that have not been my cup of tea. My sense
is that quite a few of these would be considered to be bad by most people.
Others are just not to my particular taste (at least at the time of my
encounter with them). Then there are those which I wasn't sufficiently
prepared for and consequently didn't know quite what to make of them.
Although I was aware that SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL
had been characterized as "off the wall" by the authors of "'Sex and Zen"
and "A Bullet in the Head"" (1996) prior to my viewing it for the first
time, I still didn't realize how different what Stefan Hammond and Mike
Wilkins also described as a "fantasy romance" would be from other movies
I had seen up until then. Consequently, I think I was too stunned
to like the 1991 work too much then. Recently though, and (also)
equipped this time with the advice that it is a film which one should not
think too deeply about and ought to primarily enjoy for its visual style,
I watched it again...and found this human version of a manga to be so consciously
zany and aesthetically cool as to be tremendously enjoyable.
It therefore is based on my own personal experience
that I suggest the following should one decide to check out a movie that
I am glad to have rewatched: Don't try to figure out when and where
the story and action is set. Actually, don't even worry too much
about the story and, instead, take each scene and action -- be it comedic,
dramatic, tragic or whatever -- as it comes along. At the same time,
do realize the high probability that a movie whose three principals (Andy
Lau, Anita Mui and Aaron Kwok) are major Cantopop stars will contain musical
moments. Please don't spend too much time and effort wondering what "city
soldiers" are and why some of them seem to have so much time to devote
to their own causes. Just take pleasure out of the fact that they
(three of whom come in the form of Andy Lau, Anita Mui and Kenny Bee) are
not uniformed centurions!
I think that it will also serve the (potential)
viewer well to heed these other pieces of counsel: Don't question
the science behind such as "the breathless bullet" and that which transforms
people into "terrible angels". Do enjoy their visual effects and
the chaos they create! Don't get too upset when a woman gets accidentally
shot in the butt or burns her face with an iron. Do be moved by what
a man is willing to do for the woman he loves. Don't get too upset
by cigarette smoking being used to denote coolness (It might help explain
things that Wong Kar Wai is SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL's scriptwriter).
Do enjoy the creation and existence of such characters as the absurd genius
inventor twin sister of Kwan (both of whom are very well played by Anita
Mui) and a great healer inexplicably referred to as the Pet Lady as well
as Madam of Pets (Carina Lau entrances in a small but significant part).
Thus primed, one should have a generally fun time
watching a film that Andy Lau and Anita Mui, at least in the parts that
asked them to act silly, look like they had fun making. This twice
viewer must admit though to still lacking the aptitude and ability to honestly
appreciate Gloria Yip's character in this production and Aaron Kwok in
just about any movie I've seen him in. Ah well. Hmm, maybe
if I watch SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL for a third time...?!
My rating for the film: 8.