Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei
Director: Ching Siu-Tung
Writing Credits: Wong Jing
Cast: Maggie Q, Anya, Daniel Wu
Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Crime Action
Year released: 2002
Rating: zero (out of four stars)
Naked Weapon is a Chinese movie with Western aspirations. It stars Chinese actors, but all of them speak English in the film - it also helps that most of them are born and bred in the Western world. Is it producer Wong Jings ploy to get noticed by Hollywood? Unfortunately, with the quality of Naked Weapon, the only people in Hollywood that would notice his work would be the producers and directors of pornography. Naked Weapon is nothing more than really soft-core pornography - no nudity, but plenty of nubile women strutting their stuff around. And much like a porn film, theres no trace of acting talent to be found, but plenty of gloriously bad lines and scenarios. The only naked thing about Naked Weapon is its intention - to sell the movie using sex (or more aptly, the promise of sex). Its what you can nicely call scraping the bottom, and in a year of relatively disappointing Asian films, its one of the worst around.
The story begins with Jack (Daniel Wu) hot on the trails of a hot assassin, a beautiful woman who seems to kill whilst both her target and herself are at their most vulnerable - naked and in bed. Unfortunately, his plans of capturing her and obtaining information about the mastermind is blown up when the assassin herself is blown up. However, he suspects its the work of the evil Madame M (no, not Butterfly) (Almen Wong), and his suspicions are bolstered by the fact that 12-year-old girls around the world were abducted after the death of the assassin, as though Madame M is scouting for a replacement killer (no, not Chow Yun Fatt). Amongst the girls kidnapped are Charlene (Maggie Q), Katt (Anya) and Jing (Jewel Lee), and after a cringe-inducing training montage which sees six years pass, the 40 girls become trained assassins.
After another cringe-inducing (and terribly dumb) sequence where the assassins are forced to duel each other to the death, only Katt, Charlene and Jing survive, and are recruited into Madame Ms stable of assassins. Which are known as... The China Dolls (cue eye roll). Which, by the way, demands the question - none of Madame Ms clients seek to kill women? Or are there some China Ken Dolls around too? Anyway. On a routine assassination, Charlene comes into contact with Jack, who hit it off immediately, and after several dalliances, Charlene decides to defect against Madame M. Of course theres always a spanner thrown into the works, and this time its an embittered boyfriend of one of Madame Ms assassinated targets. Hes pissed, and hes out for revenge, putting not only Madame M at risk, but the China Dolls as well.
To say that the film was directed by Tony Ching Siu Tung is being kind, because there really isnt much direction to be seen in Naked Weapon. And to have Tony Ching fumble in scenes that he ripped out from other movies (GI Jane, for one) is simply an adequate showing of the directorial talent on display. It doesnt help that his treatment of homosexuality is one of the most crass and offensive ones I have seen in a long while, and coupled with really, really hammy sequences (an ice cream truck romance scene, and a love scene at the beach being two of many) and lame dialogue, Naked Weapon consistently induces cringing. And the actors, despite being young and beautiful, displays the acting talent equivalent to one of Edward Nortons fingernails. Daniel Wu and Maggie Q, being the leads of the movie, share zero chemistry, and the romance is flat and insipid.
Then there are the sub-par special effects that Asian films like to include these days. These effects are so obvious that they do not segue at all with the rest of the scene, and is so blatantly false that they actually jar the audience out of any suspension of disbelief. One would hope that at least, the choreography would be of the usual Asian standard, but the film has been so Westernized that even the action choreography suffers. Mock Matrix-style choreography isnt the only insult - theres a particularly unforgettable sequence where Charlene battles the evil embittered boyfriend, but ends up perched on his head in a classic Kung Fu stance. Which beggars the questions (A) Did Tony Ching think this is a pugilistic movie, and the two are about to combine forces seen so often in such films? And (B) Theyre supposed to be fighting each other, why in the world is he not offering any resistance when shes perched on his head? Its absurd, and Naked Weapon doesnt even try to numb the pain with some gratuitous nudity. Wong Jings name is usually connected to movies that are substandard, but even for him this is a new low in years. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Final Word: There is absolutely no reason to watch this movie. Not even for fans of B-grade movies, because this film really plumbs the depths of Movies That Are Beyond B.