Director: Patrick Leung
Stars: Wu Chien-Lin, Lau Ching-Wan, Han Sang-Woo
A soulless assassin (Wu) finds solace in a noodle shop owned by a former Triad (Lau). Her dreams of having a normal life with the noodle cook are shattered after a Korean gangster (Han, sporting one of the most ridiculous haircuts I've ever seen outside of a Flock of Seagulls video) comes to Hong Kong to take revenge for a crime boss she killed.
Beyond Hypothermia (the film takes its title from the fact that the main character's body temperature is five degrees lower than normal) was highly lauded upon its premiere; many people cited it as a female version of John Woo's genre-defining classic The Killer. Upon closer inspection, Beyond Hypothermia has only a slight resemblance to The Killer, but is still fairly entertaining nonetheless.
Where Beyond Hypothermia and The Killer differ radically are the characters. While The Killer had a solidly human element to it (portrayed through the relationships in the movie), Beyond Hypothermia's characters are cold and unfeeling, leaving the audience little to sympathize with. Even though Lau's character is warm and likable, when in comparison to the other people in the movie, he comes off as a fake caricature and thus loses credibility in the audience's eyes. The romantic elements, while somewhat touching, seem forced -- mostly because we know so little about the characters. It's as if Beyond Hypothermia is actually a sequel to a previous movie, where we learned about the characters. Again, it's this kind of "nebulous void" in character development that presents a major roadblock in the enjoyment of the movie.
Another roadblock in the movie is the heavy-handed symbolism. Granted, The Killer and similar films have their share of symbolism, but Beyond Hypothermia goes overboard with it. By the end of the film, the use of ice cubes (for the killer) and boiling water (for the cook) got to be just too much. We get the point already -- the cook is "warming" the killer's heart.
The film also tends to diverge in points and thus slow the story down, such as the incestuous sub-plot involving Wu's aunt. I also think far too much time was spent on the Korean hitman (mostly in throwaway scenes, such at his boss' funeral), since his relationship within the movie as a whole is only secondary to the killer and noodle cook.
All that being said, I would still recommend Beyond Hypothermia. The film is quite stylish; the assassination scenes are quite well done in the vein of La Femme Nikita. Actionwise, Beyond Hypothermia also holds up well. While not the "bloodshed ballet" of The Killer, there are a number of good gunfights that will satisfy most any John Woo fan.
Overall, Beyond Hypothermia is a film that didn't quite live up to the hype, but is still a good movie nonetheless.
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