Switch: A disjointed mess of a film

A puzzling plot and severe lack of character development makes “Switch” a pain to watch.

andy-lau-in-switch

There are films that are so cheesy and just so bad that they are good.

But Chinese director Jay Sun’s maiden film “Switch” is just bad.

The film follows Hong Kong anti-smuggling agent Xiao Jinhan (Andy Lau) as he attempts to retrieve the stolen halves of a priceless Chinese painting, “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains”.

Standing in his way is the cruel Japanese crime boss Toshio Yamamoto (Tong Dawei), who has a bit of an Oedipus complex, and a band of sexy female assassins at his command, along with a British gangster and The Empress, a mysterious Chinese woman.

Xiao has to keep his wife Lin Yuyan (Zhang Jingchu) and child out of harm’s way while he searches for the painting with his enigmatic new partner Wang Xueqing (Lin Chiling).

The synopsis sounds promising enough, but the actual film is a disjointed mess.

Sun, who wrote the script as well, seemed to have made things up as he went along.

The story is incredibly difficult to follow because there is no buildup to big turning points in the plot.

Superfluous scenes also litter the film.

Some scenes, like Xiao’s meeting with a young girl, served no purpose at all, except to set up a scene much later in the film where he has to rescue her from Japanese rapists, in a bloody fight scene laden with overt nationalism.

There was also virtually no character development in the film.

The characters seem to just happen to be doing what they are doing. Their motivations are fuzzy, and there are no events in the film that show the audience what kind of people they are.

This makes it hard to care about the characters, and feel anything for the film, except relief when the ending credits finally roll.

Uninspiring action

“Switch” fails to impress in the action department as well. Poorly done special effects and uninspiring fight scenes hurt the film, which is touted as a spy thriller, even further.

One scene had Xiao face off against a baddie in a fencing battle. But they were dressed in fencing gear, complete with protective helmets throughout the fight.

There are many problems with this.

Since the protective helmet covered their faces, and their fencing gear is identical, it was hard to tell who is doing what. Safety gear also greatly diminishes the thrill of a duel to the death.

Things start to really get out of hand when they suddenly jump onto the side of a giant bookshelf and start fighting there.

“Switch” is seriously not very good.

The US$26 million (S$32 million) film has a disjointed, cliché-ridden plot, no character development, poor special effects and bad action sequences.

The film’s only redeeming feature is that it’s at least a little funny.

Xiao’s quirky, sexually-charged relationship with Wang will probably draw a few smiles, though it’s the film’s ridiculous scenes and ham-fisted attempts at building tension that will really bring on the laughs.

1.5/ 5 stars

– CNA/ha (http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/entertainment/switch-a-disjointed-mess/708938.html)