To be fair, I went into this movie with the express purpose of reviewing it for the A to Z Blogging Challenge because it started with a C and I haven’t done as many movie or television reviews in a while. I like doing my little quasi-reviews and when I saw it on the Netflix menu, City Under Siege looked like it might be awful. It was either this or Chinese Zodiac which is a recent Jackie Chan movie. Anyway, I thought this would be awful and it’s really fun to tear apart a bad movie. However, it’s also really fun to be surprised and experience new things as well. To be fair, I watched the English dub version.
I don’t watch many foreign films. When I say this, I don’t really count British movies as we are in the middle of a second British Invasion. I guess I watch more than the average American but that’s not saying much. City Under Siege is the poorly titled effort of Hong Kong director Benny Chan who directed one of my favorite Jackie Chan movies. The movie is an odd mix of comedy and deep drama all rolled together in a superhero movie. Yes, this is basically a superhero movie in my eyes.
Now let me use my patented “Quotes from me as I watched the movie” to highlight parts of the movie.
This is slightly spoilery. Skip to the bottom if you don’t want any spoilers.
“Welp, there’s a clown. I’m out.”
The hero is a circus clown who becomes a superhero. Clowns creep me out but I’ve learned to embrace that. Still, it made the introduction of the movie’s main character a weird one. Warning: The first shot after the movie’s prologue is a clown closeup. However, clown is also the hero’s main personality style and although it can get annoying, he’s pretty fun.
“Whips? Daggers? What kind of circus is this?”
The circus depicted in the movie is some sort of martial arts circus that I’ve never heard of before. Maybe these sorts of circuses are popular in Malaysia or Hong Kong but they weren’t what I grew up with. If they were, I would have begged to go to the circus more often.
“Ok this was kind of an inspirational sports movie and now it’s a heist film. Now it’s a martial arts film. This is that timeless tale of the knife-throwing clown who becomes a mutant and…Ohh this is a superhero movie. I’m on board.”
The movie shifts back and forth between a lot of plots but at it’s heart it is a superhero movie. It starts like a sports movie about a knife-thrower and then it goes on from there. The tonal shifts actually help build exposition fairly naturally and give you a break between the high impact wire fighting scenes. It also gives the movie more heart.
“There are a lot of characters in this. They… wait Paparazzi Duty?!”
This is a small thing but a reporter gets moved from being a news anchor to ‘papparazi duty’ which absolutely baffled me. I couldn’t figure out if this was actually a thing but it sounds absolutely awful and it was pretty much meant to sound awful.
“Better depiction of a superhero than Man of Steel.”
Yes, I took yet another shot at Man of Steel. Two in one week. That’s a new record for me. The hero is able to act brave, heroic and also faces heroic dilemmas without being an asshole. He actually acts like he gives a crap about human life and the lives of his enemies. Go figure.
The only complaint I have about this movie is that it feels just a little bit long in spots but it’s only about an hour and 50 minutes which isn’t too long. Mostly it was in spots where they released the tension to focus on character development. They probably could have done that less. Still, the movie is pretty epic and I definitely suggest you go watch it.