The Blacksheep Affair
Director: Allen Lam
Stars: Zhao Wen-Zhou, Andrew Lin, Hsu Chi
A Mainland soldier (Zhao) disobeys an order and is sent to Lavernia to assist the Chinese embassy. His first day there, Zhao manages to bring in the leader (Lin) of a dangerous Japanese cult. It turns out the cult is running weapons through the country, so the crooked Minister of Defense wants to kill Lin before he can blow the whistle. Since a boatload of Chinese refugees is also causing him headaches, the Minister decides to kill two birds with one stone by having Zhao and his men escort Lin into an ambush. Zhao must keep Lin under arrest while trying to get away from the Lavernian troops.
The Blacksheep Affair was a big disappointment. There's a lot going on wrong in the movie, but for brevity's sake, I'll boil it down to a couple of main points.
- All the Laverian (Russian) people speak perfect English. Having white people speak in English is not uncommon in HK movies, but this is ridiculous. They don't even have Russian accents. Did I mention that they're also dubbed in while there's badly translated subs playing? So you get the worst of both worlds. Frankly, I haven't heard a dub job this bad since some of the '70's kung-fu movies. If the producers were trying to create a more international market for this movie, they failed miserably. I saw this in a theatre with a racially mixed audience and the dubbing was an insult to every group's intelligence.
- The script is, in a word, horrible. Characters come and go at the drop of a hat, and even when they stay around, they're poorly motivated. Zhao's girlfriend (Hsu), who for some reason manages to hear about his transfer decides to show up from Croatia (I guess moving around in a war-torn European country is easier than I thought). There could have been something done with this character, but she quickly becomes the standard whiny damsel in distress. Most of the other characters in Blacksheep suffer the same fate. The only somewhat interesting character is Lin's cult leader, but instead of developing it more, the movie gives us things like an impromptu song-and-dance number. I also really didn't understand how the Chinese refugees fit into the whole picture. There are several lame attempts at symbolism in Blacksheep, so I guess this is just another one of them. At any rate, the Minister's plan doesn't make any sense -- just like most of the movie.
I could go into more detail, but I really don't care enough about this movie to. The only thing that saves Blacksheep from being a total stinker are the action sequences. Both Zhao and Lin are decent martial artists, and there is a fair amount of Woo-inspired gunplay. But it isn't enough to recommend this movie for anything other than a rental, and only then if there isn't anything better to watch available.
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