You may define your own banner on the settings page.
FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Ambient Noise
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Full Alert
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Hidden Blade, The
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Korban Fitnah
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
e-mail me

   Touch, The  


The Touch

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Chinese Title: Tian mai chuan qi
Director: Peter Pau
Writing credits: Julien Carbon, Laurent Courtiaud, J.D. Zeik
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ben Chaplin, Richard Roxburgh, Brandon Chang
Language: Mandarin
Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action
Year released: 2002
Runtime: 104 min
Rating: ** (out of four stars)

The Touch is a sure sign that Michelle Yeoh is rising up the ranks in Hollywood - due largely to the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon no doubt. The Touch sees her in the producer’s role for the first time, and she has chosen an Asian-tinged swashbuckler to be her maiden effort. The director for this modestly-budgeted (US$20 million) film also hails from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, being the Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau. Michelle Yeoh, of course, stars as the female protagonist in the movie. Sounds like a formula for sure success? Well...

Yin Fei (Michelle Yeoh) is the head of a family of acrobats, who has kept safe half the key to the secret of an ancient Buddhist relic for generations. The relic is the holy Sharira (no, not the throaty Latino songstress) of Xuan Zang, the life-essence of the venerable Buddhist monk. However, evil Caucasian collector Karl (Richard Roxburgh) has managed to find the other half of the key - a talisman called The Heart of Dun Huang, thanks to the services of a thief by the name of Eric (Ben Chaplin).

However, Eric has his eyes set on the Sharira too, and teams up with Yin Fei, whom he was once involved with, to seek out the relic in the remote desert area of Dun Huang. Little do they know that Tong (Brandon Chang), Yin Fei’s brash younger brother, is also intent on reclaiming the family treasure. Thus begins an adventure that proves to be more dangerous than they thought would be...

Yes, it’s a stock action movie plot, made slightly different by adding in the Asian perspective. But like what many people say, no one watches action films for the plot, so the point is a little moot. Audiences watch action films for the action sequences, the special effects, and occasionally the repartee and romance between the protagonists. Indiana Jones is a perfect example, and it’s not unfair to compare the two films. The Touch even shares the comic streak that runs through the Indiana Jones movies, and there are a handful of scenes in The Touch that will certainly bring a smile to one’s lips. There is, however, a totally unnecessary character in the film that can be best compared to Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace - a bumbling character that is so unbelievably stupid and useless that it’s clear the sole purpose is to provide comic relief. And, unfortunately, that doesn’t work most of the time, neither in The Phantom Menace nor The Touch.

To be fair, The Touch features truly breathtaking scenery, especially the scenes which feature the desolately beautiful vistas of Dun Huang and Tibet. With Peter Pau at the helm, it’s unsurprising to find that the cinematography in The Touch is excellent, and there are scenes that are lavishly drenched in colour, reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s work in Kundun. There is also one scene early on in The Touch, where UV light is used to remarkable (though mildly cheesy) effect. No one can do action choreography like the Asians can, and The Touch doesn’t prove this point wrong. However, some of the fight sequences seem ripped off from those found in Crouching Tiger, and other sequences aren’t as well-choreographed.

Unfortunately, the special effects in The Touch are just about the worst I have seen in years, with unbelievably poor blue screen composites that seem more like effects from the early 80s than a 2002 film. One wonders why the producers (yes, that includes you, Miss Yeoh) weren’t able to either reduce the number of effects shots, or to at least increase the budget allocated to these sequences. Thankfully, these special effects are confined to the last reel of The Touch, leaving most of the movie untainted by these cringe-inducing scenes. Although Michelle Yeoh acquits herself in the role of Yin Fei, the same cannot be said of Richard Roxburgh, who spends all of his onscreen time happily chewing the scenery as a stock villain, and Ben Chaplin, who is his usual bland and unremarkable self.

The Touch is also a film that seems afraid to make use of subtitles: how believable is it that everyone who has a speaking role in Dun Huang converses in American-accented English, including the monks? This seems surprising, especially since so many people involved in The Touch came from Crouching Tiger, a film that did remarkably well despite being almost exclusively screened subtitled in the Western world. Despite these flaws, The Touch remains a fairly entertaining film, and the audience is plied with enough eye candy to make the trip to the theaters a moderately worthwhile one. Just don’t mistakenly take The Touch to be an effects movie - there is a reason why none of the special effects were shown in the trailers.

Final Word: Jaw-droppingly bad special effects and a lackluster cast threaten to spoil the whole show, but gorgeous scenery and effective cinematography help save The Touch.