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Crimes of Passion

Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming in Crimes of Passion.

AKA: A Sentimental Story  
Chinese: 一場風花雪月的事  
Year: 2013  
Director: Gao Qunshu  
Producer: Zheng Xin, Zhao Haicheng

Lola Huo, Gao Qunsh, Hai Yan (original novel)

Cast: Angelababy, Huang Xiaoming, Jae Hui, Wei Zi, Ni Dahong, Heo Jun-Ho, Meng Tingyi, Cao Weiyu, Su Qing
The Skinny: Overlong and incredibly languid romantic crime thriller that's plagued by bad chemistry between the leads and a ridiculous and unlikeable protagonist. Angelababy has terrific promise as a star, but Crimes of Passion demonstrates her still sizable shortcomings as an actress.
by Kozo:
Our favorite baby, Angelababy, stars in Crimes of Passion as rookie policewoman Lu Yueyue, who’s at the center of a high-stakes police operation. The cops seek the Golden Buddha statuette, a stolen national treasure, and it’s now in the possession of Korean gangster Kim Jeong-Tae (Heo Jun-Ho). To get to the Buddha, the cops shadow Jeong-Tae’s brother Jeong-Hui (Jae Hui of 3-Iron), who’s being targeted for assassination by rival gangs. Jeong-Hui takes an immediate shine to Yueyue but is loath to help the cops. No matter – the cops put Yueyue on Jeong-Hui full-time, leading to piercing gazes from Jeong-Hui across dinner tables and smoldering jealousy from Yueyue’s senior, detective Xue Yu (Huang Xiaoming). Will Jeong-Hui help the cops out of affection for Yueyue, or will Jeong-Hui be hospitalized after Xue Yu’s jealousy gets the better of him? And has there ever been a worse cop given greater responsibility than Li Yueyue?

Regarding Yueyue, the answer leans towards “no”. Yueyue’s role in saving Jeong-Hui from an early assassination earns her a central role in the operation, but afterwards she displays the sort of average ability, unprofessional behavior and poor attitude that would get most cops demoted if not brought up on charges. In addition to this petulant policewoman being the central character, her relationships are the film’s driving force, making Crimes of Passion a near interminable affair. Yueyue’s relationship with Jeong Hui is wholly uninteresting, and her connection to Xue Yu isn’t much better. The film follows the love triangle in languid fashion, with a meandering story and stilted English language dialogue (between Angelababy and Jae Hui) eating up scads of screentime. The film’s drama and emotions hinge on these relationships, but director Gao Qushu (of the award-winning Beijing Blues) can’t get the passion part of the English-language title onto the screen.

Of the three leads, Huang Xiaoming shows the most passion, but his intense hard-boiled cop is laughably out of place in this cold thriller. Jae Hui does what he can considering his mostly English dialogue. Angelababy fares the worst, as the script requires her to basically justify the character with her performance, and the young actress doesn’t come through. The character of Li Yueyue needs to be someone that the audience cares for, but she ultimately comes off as unlikeable. It’s not all bad with Crimes of Passion; the cinematography is slick and takes advantage of the film’s wide-ranging locations, from urban spaces to rural vistas. Also, one lengthy car chase midway ratchets up the intensity nicely. Sadly, there is no second gear for Crimes of Passion, just a boring slog of conversations and romantic insinuations that ends in a bizarre, unresolved manner. Angelababy may be our favorite baby, but she’s got a ways to go before she becomes our favorite actress. (Kozo, 1/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson Enterprises Co., Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
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