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|A scene from One Step Away starring Sun Honglei (left) and Guey Lun-mei
Without a doubt this past weekend's biggest hit commercially speaking was suspense film One Step Away. As the big screen debut of famous TV director Zhao Baogang cheap nike air force 1 high black , together with the film's numerous stars from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong, there was considerable hype surrounding the film before its premiere on Friday.
My own expectations high, I bought a ticket for the film's first showing. However, after sitting through the film's 100-minute running time, I - and many other people on the Internet apparently - came to the conclusion that One Step Away is an average film that could have been much better.
A good beginning
The story begins in the early 1930s cheap nike air force 1 low white , a time when the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the then ruling Kuomintang party were sending spies into each others' camps, and mainly involves the love affair that takes place between a CPC spy and an ordinary dance teacher.
Involving heavy downpours, flying bullets, assassins and spy games in crowded venues, the beginning of One Step Away grabbed my attention right away by establishing a tense mood. And the uncompleted fragments of the plot allure audience eager to know the whole story.
The plot development that follows was well conceived as well.
Suddenly, the lead character Fu Jingnian (Sun Honglei) cheap nike air force 1 low balck , our aforementioned CPC spy, is thrust into a dangerous situation for which he is unprepared when the newly assigned spy sent to replace him is discovered. To make matters worse, Fu has to interrogate and torture dance teacher Ning Dai (Guey Lun-mei) after she discovers Fu's identity as a spy.
I could feel audience around me hold their breath every time Fu and Ning would make eye contact, as it was impossible to tell if Fu's identity would be exposed.
Laggard follow ups
However, as the story progresses and Fu and Ning fall in love it soon loses all tension, and plot holes soon become apparent.
The love story between Fu and Ning begins to leap over the next 70 years cheap nike air force 1 low , jumping to the late 1930s, 40s and finally heading into the 21st century. However, unlike the first period the story takes place in, the latter eras are fairly boring. For the sake of telling the complete story of the two's relationship, the spy plotline is completely dropped. Meanwhile, every following scene in which the two met yet again after several years plays out nearly the same way each time cheap nike air force 270 gold standard , and after a certain point starts to feel repetitive.
One of the main criticisms reviewers have launched against Zhao is that as a TV series director used to telling a story over the course of several episodes he lacks the ability to condense everything into a two-hour film.
The elaborately conceived romance is not without its flaws, either.
Many netizens have had a hard time believing that the two could fall in love so quickly without any sort of emotional foundation. This is especially true when there were hints that Fu was actually in love with Ning's friend before, and shortly after her death, all the time while he was flirting with Ning.
Also the way the director has the two keep running into each other over the following decades comes across as a bit too much of a coincidence. Perhaps this is the director's way to show that the two were meant for each other.
The acting in the film is yet another problem. Although the film covers a period of 70 years, except for the fact that one of them grows a mustache and the other changes her hairstyle, their personalities remain completely unchanged. For example cheap nike air force 270 medium olive , it's understandable when Ning is portrayed as a young innocent dance teacher in the 1930s, but after being tortured and surviving years of war, it seems a bit weird when instead of maturing she continues to act the innocent throughout the rest of her life.
Hammering the mood
Burned into my and the other members of the audience's minds were the films repetitive tango dances involving Fu and Ning, along with the classic song "Por Una Cabeza."
This same piece of music has appeared in many famous films, such as French comedy fantasy Delicatessen (1991) and the US film Scent of a Woman (1992), yet cheap nike air force 270 carnivore , how it is constantly used in Zhao's One Step Away ends up becoming somewhat tiresome.
Meaning "by a head" in English and often translated as "yibuzhiyao" (lit: one step away) in Chinese, it was a wise choice on the director's part to use this song to indicate the destiny of the couple, as throughout their lives they are always so close yet still far from being able to be together.
However, when the couple begins to dance almost anywhere at the drop of the hat it completely begins to disrupt the audience's suspension of disbelief, making one feel that the song and dancing are just there to help create a particular mood instead of helping advance the plot.
Zhao's overemphasis on mood can also be seen throughout the film. It always seems to be raining in Shanghai, while Chongqing cheap nike air force 270 sherbert , a city in Southwest China that seldom sees snow, is covered in heavy snowflakes.
"Under the direction of Zhao Baogang, [director of cinematography] Arthur Wong pushes aestheticism to the extreme … it's like using Wong Kar-wai's film style to shoot a Jonnie To story," one film critic on entertainment portal yule.sohu commented.
The film's scenes are beautiful, the women dressed in Chinese qipao are sexy and the music is pleasing to the ears, but all in all it seems TV director Zhao Baogang is still more than one step away from the correct path to a successful film career.
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