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Silver Hawk

Michelle Yeoh poses heroically as Silver Hawk.
Chinese: 飛鷹  
Year: 2004
Director: Jingle Ma Chor-Sing  
Producer: Thomas Chung, Michelle Yeoh, Gao Feng-Jun
Action: Ailen Sit Chun-Wai  
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Richie Ren, Luke Goss, Brandon Chang (Cheung Cheuk-Nam), Li Bingbing, Kouichi Iwaki, Michael Jai White, Chan Da-Ming
The Skinny: A bad idea compounded by unimaginative, laughable execution. Michelle Yeoh's producing credibility takes another hit with Silver Hawk. The woman is still a charismatic leading lady, but somebody else should decide her parts for her.
by Kozo:

If Silver Hawk, produced by and starring the internationally-popular Michelle Yeoh, had a word to best describe it, it would be this: ill-conceived. Ostensibly a campy superhero action-adventure, Silver Hawk is at best a silly curiosity and at worst a misbegotten cinematic stink hole. Director-cinematographer Jingle Ma can't summon the requisite style to cloak the film's abominably average script, and Michelle Yeoh long-accepted screen charisma is beginning to look a little self-appointed. At the very least, the film's bad buzz has been so deafening that it's nearly impossible for it to suck beyond expectation. But putting Silver Hawk's questionable execution aside, let's face it: this is simply a bad idea.

Michelle Yeoh is Lulu Wong, a billionaire heiress and adrenaline junkie who moonlights as the dashing superhero Silver Hawk. When she's not beating up criminals from here to the Great Wall, she resides in futuristic Polaris City and fends off the advances of dorky suitors like Professor Ho Chung (Chen Da-Ming), the goofy inventor of a mind-reading AI device which senses a person's every need—whether they want it or not. Unfortunately, Ho's device catches the attention of evil bastard Alexander Wolfe (Luke Goss), a cueball badguy with cybernetic arms. He intends to combine Ho's AI device with a Bluetooth cell phone to remove free will from the majority of its users, thereby controlling millions of people remotely. Yes, just like the bad guys in Josie and the Pussycats.

Lulu gets involved with this mess thanks to a variety of connections and coincidences that could only exist in the movies. Lulu is being hit on by Dr. Ho, but she also has a past with Police Inspector Rich Man (Richie Ren), who apparently is the worst cop EVER. Rich Man and Lulu were friends when they were both training as kids at the Shaolin Temple. Like then, Rich Man is an annoying blowhard who feigns awesome martial arts techniques when he really can't succeed at any task given to him by the cops. Not only can he not catch Silver Hawk, who routinely eludes his grasp, but he also lets the bad guys kidnap Dr. Ho. You'd think a guy who trained at the Shaolin Temple AND was imported to Polaris City to lead their anti-Silver Hawk task force would be a competent cop, but that's simply not the case.

However, Rich Man does figure out Silver Hawk's secret identity. Too bad that secret is guarded about as well as a your average celebrity sex tape. Then again, expecting true complexity in Silver Hawk would be like stupid, because let's face it: this movie looked like a turkey way before it ever came out. Did anyone who saw advance photos of Michelle Yeoh's getup in Silver Hawk even entertain for a moment that this could possibly be a good film? The silver-and-black coat and hotpants ensemble Yeoh models in the film looks like something you'd see in a superhero parody film, and not a serious action flick. Granted, Silver Hawk doesn't really attempt to be serious, but the filmmakers don't even bring the film to amusing camp level. Despite whatever humor the film attempts (most of it being at the expense of Richie Ren's character), Silver Hawk feels just like its futuristic setting: simplistic, superficial and ultimately stale. The storyline and screenplay are unimaginative and uninteresting, and the acting ranges from simplistic (bad guys Lee Bing-Bing and Michael Jai White barely speak) to outright annoying (Michelle Yeoh protege Brandon Chang is bothersome as all hell). Bad idea, bad execution.

But this is an action film, meaning that all could be forgiven if the film provided some sort of action fix for the masses. Well, strike two. The action choreography by Alien Sit is fairly routine, and nothing worth writing home about. Too often the action slows to a crawl to highlight Michelle Yeoh jumping off a truck, or onto her bike, or some other routine action that doesn't deserve a John Woo slow-motion flourish. Also somewhat mystifying are the bizarre action set pieces, including bad guys who fight via bungee cords (Why? Who the hell knows?) and the climactic fisticuffs with rollerblading hockey players. Once upon a time, people went to see Michelle Yeoh in films because she looked like she could convincingly kick ass. Here, she looks more like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible 2. That is, she looks like an actor/producer who liked the idea of kicking ass in a movie, so she concocted a flimsy storyline and set pieces in which she could strut her not-so-convincing stuff. Granted, Yeoh deserves far more action cred than a guy like Cruise, but Silver Hawk's action seems more concerned with glossy artifice than anything else.

On the lowest of levels, Silver Hawk feels like a Michelle Yeoh vanity project—a notion that this reviewer feels guilty even entertaining. Yeoh has long demonstrated that she's earned the right to call her own shots, so it's hard to knock her for producing clunkers like The Touch. However, Silver Hawk ultimately feels like a star-gratifying ego trip, and little else. The film possesses very little creativity, energy, or wit. Instead, we get an annoyingly concocted superhero character (A beautiful heiress who fights crime for fun!) that exists in an unconvincing fantasy world, complete with fans who want her autograph and cheer wherever she goes. This is simply a bad idea, and one that really can't avoid any sort of impartial scrutiny. Still, it's entirely conceivable that Michelle Yeoh's diehard fans will view Silver Hawk as nothing more than a harmless lark, and will quickly forgive their idol for making such a high-level turkey. At the same time, it's also conceivable that Silver Hawk could cause Yeoh to lose some fans. (Kozo 2004)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC (Marked as Region 3)
Mega Star / Media Asia
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Trailers, Concept drawings, Photo gallery, "Making of" featurette

images courtesy of Media Asia Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen