Chinese Odyssey 2002 (2002)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-03-19

It has been well established that Jeff Lau is on a different planet to the rest of the movie-making world, but what particular planet that is has yet to be identified. His movies tend to be very hit or miss - often within the space of a couple of minutes.

I think that overall CO 2002 is probably a miss for me, though it's hard to say why... it just never quite clicked for me. I wasn't particularly concerned about the characters I guess, or their fates. I didn't find much of the humour amusing either. There's some nice costumes and what-not, which would probably look great on a DVD, but not on VCD.

The movie covers some fairly traditional plot points - cross dressed lovers w/ gender confusion comedy, lovers from different social strata with Romeo & Juliet syndrome to conquer. It's basically a romance at heart, but doesn't seem quite sure about it until about half way through the movie. There's lots of extraneous goings on that serve no purpose to the end result.

Rather than CHINESE ODYSSEY 2002, it would have been better titled ASHES OF TIME 2002, as there are quite a few plot points that seem like re-exploration of the same territory. Close enough that I wondered briefly if it was meant to be a prequel or something - especially since chunks of the ASHES soundtrack are used here wholesale. It's not, but it's obviously meant to remind us of it - not surprising given Jeff Lau & Wong Kar-Wai's past. There are a number of points where Lau parodies Chungking Express too, a source of vague mild amusement but not exactly up to the minute satire.

One of the things that really bothered me whilst watching the movie was some really bad post-dubbing. Not just because the lips & facial expressions were badly synced - but also because I'm sure quite a lot of the lines were dubbed by completely different people :-/ I'd be interested to hear the Mandarin audio track...

I think my recommendation would be to wait for the DVD, where a sharp widescreen picture and removable subtitles will doubtless improve the aesthetic experience. I don't think there's anything else in the movie that you need to rush to see.