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Cross

Cross

Simon Yam has some explaining to do in Cross.


  AKA: Smile For Me
  Chinese: 第6誡
Year: 2012  
Director: Daniel Chan Yee-Heng (2010), Steve Woo (2011),
Lau Kin-Ping (2012), Hui Shu-Ning (2012)
Producer: Ramy Choi Chung-King
Writer: Daniel Chan Yee-Heng, Steve Woo, Lau Kin-Ping, Hui Shu-Ning
Cast:

Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Kenny Wong Tak-Bun, Liu Kai-Chi, Evelyn Choi Wing-Yan, Chen Ran, Mo Tzi-Yi, Jason Chang, Yukihiko Kageyama, Mimi Kung Chi-Yan, Nick Cheung Ka-Fai, Sin Lap-Man, Oceane Zhu Xuan

The Skinny: Simon Yam as a sympathetic serial killer can't save Cross. This troubled production has a decent premise but the execution is amazingly terrible. The biggest problem: the film was apparently never finished. Featuring four directors and two actors playing a single role.
   
Review
by Kozo:

When good ideas go really bad, you get Cross. This mystery thriller gets points for its solid cast and intriguing concept but loses them for shoddy execution, an incomplete story and a crew that lists four(!) writer-directors, with initial filmmaker Daniel Chan essentially having nothing to do with the project post-2010. The one constant is producer Ramy Choi, so process of elimination implies that we could blame the entire mess on him. One thing’s for sure, this is not Simon Yam’s fault. The Yamster plays Lee Leung, a devout Catholic who lost his wife (Zhu Xuan) to leukemia. She committed suicide to end the pain, but Leung’s faith decrees that suicide is a sin, ergo she’s not headed to the pearly gates. This fact tortures Leung, but it also provides him with a mission: Leung becomes “God’s Agent” and offers to kill suicidal people, thereby bringing them peace and allowing them passage into Heaven. He’s like Dr. Kevorkian, except he sometimes uses power drills instead of lethal injections.

Cross opens with Lee Leung surrendering himself at a police station, where he details his victims and his methods. We learn his moves in step-by-step fashion; Leung lays out his means of communication (a suicide forum), his conditions (he decides the time and place) and his methods (a supposed tranquil death, though power drills are OK). Meanwhile, psychologist Cheung (Kenny Wong) investigates, holing himself up in Leung’s workshop where he wears Leung’s clothes, works with Leung’s tools (Leung was an eyeglasses maker) and handles all of Leung’s stuff. If there’s a police rule about not messing with evidence, Cheung doesn’t seem to care. The character doesn’t serve much of a function besides providing supposedly clever illustration of some of Leung’s voiceover confessions. We get a rundown of Lee’s victims, from a dying dad (Liu Kai-Chi) to a deaf musician (Yukihiko Kageyama) to a pair of young women (Chen Ran and Evelyn Choi), and it’s all very matter-of-fact. Lee and Cheung simply illustrate the film’s premise. What does the film offer besides that?

Well, it offers a twist, and when we get to it Cross jumps the rails and demolishes the train station. The first half of Cross is told in a relatively stately fashion, with art-toned images and deliberately slow storytelling selling the reverence with which Lee Leung approaches “God’s work.” However, the film turns when Cheung exclaims, “Ah ha!”, after which we receive an explanation of his discovery in a repetitive manner. Answers are given using footage run variously through the nostalgia filter, the VHS fast-rewind-with-bad-tracking filter, plus other Final Cut Pro tools. We could blame this storytelling technique on audience ADD, i.e., modern moviegoers have such short attention spans that flashbacks are required every ten minutes. Or it may simply be a length issue. Cross is basically a two-act film with no climax or denouement after its big twist, and only a barely coherent explanation as the payoff. Without flashbacks the film might be only 70 minutes long, so the extra padding makes Cross officially a feature. Um, yay?

Someone is obviously happy about the film’s completion; the credits include a particularly large thanks to directors Lau Kin-Ping and Hui Shu-Ning for finishing the film. But the seams of this troubled production show, from the lack of resolution to the recycled footage to the hilariously slow end credit crawl to the fact that one character is played by two different actors. None of the performances are particularly noteworthy, but the material given them is incomplete, consisting solely of a premise and an abundance of details, only some of which are addressed or explained. Nick Cheung is pretty good in his single scene, and Paul Wong’s score is appropriately moody but at this point I’m just grasping at straws. Really, Cross should be included on any list of 2012’s worst films simply on principle because it takes a good idea (Daniel Chan’s original pitch won some industry awards), botches the whole thing and then tries to pass itself off as a finished film. Pro tip: just because you complete a film doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worth watching. (Kozo, 2012)

   

   
   
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