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This film I saw as part of my project “Chinese Box Office Wonders” – I took it on myself to watch the 10 most successful domestic Chinese movies of the last year. See here for the introduction and the list of films.

This film should be established as compulsory watching at film schools around the world. It shatters the notion that anybody can make a solidly entertaining action movie given a certain budget. It provides ample evidence that film making is pretty hard, that it requires skills which need to be built up over time, that the production of a movie is a vocation, a craft which should be learned properly and systematically. It may not be the most complicated of things, but you need to get some people involved who have a vague idea of what they’re doing, and some others who have seen a film or two in their lives. “Come visit our Film Academy”, film academy’s promotion flyers should shout, “or else you will end up making movies like ‘Switch’!”
I read that the reception of the film was not very good, to say the least. There is the suspicion that the film only ended up with the high box office figures because of the spectacularly bad press it got – and many people wanted to see Andy Lau in this kind of car crash of a film. On the other hand, I learned to enjoy “not very good” films on their own level of existence, they are created to provide forgettable escapism for an hour or three, and I don’t mind that. This is the attitude with which I started watching “Switch”… I admit that I was not prepared for the spectacular mountain of incompetence that “Switch” is. There is no hint of skill, either in photography, direction, sound, acting, visual effects… nothing. Some deficiencies are even more outstanding than others. The production design basically consists of buying everything from a designer furniture bargain bin and pretending it is cool. The award of most rotten composition of a movie I remember having ever seen goes to: editing, stunt coordination, product placement:
• Min. 7: realisation creeps in… this will be tough… somebody was shooting footage and then handed it over to a four-year-old, who started pushing all the buttons on the Avid machine and then some… the editing / timing is completely off, creates almost incomprehensible successions of cuts and scenes. This is not “modern-style frantic”, it is “text book incompetent”.
• Min. 10: Andy Lau’s character has a doctorate degree in law from Oxford? Then why can’t he say a single straight (four-worded) English sentence? Thank God for the English subtitles…
• Min. 15: this is what they consider to be a dense atmospheric setting with creepy protagonists? It would be funny would it not look so poorly made.
• Min. 23: I was waiting for this… the Japanese sadist has had a bad childhood …
• Min. 49: Yes, we all thought the “Minority Report” computer interface was quite slick, but that was like 15 years ago. Also: If you show a character handle the screens like that, at least pretend that he has a reason to do so. And don’t show it seven times, 3 minutes each…
• Min. 66: Quite a feat to make Andy Lau look stupid and clumsy in a fight scene. This is called “Dumbass Kung Fu”? Do they not have choreographers, stuntmen, any of the things that you need for a movie fight?
• Permanently: Buy Audi! Because Audi is a very good car. It is very fast and will never get a scratch! Buy! Even when shot at, really! Great car! In silver and red! Even better if you are tapping on your nonsensical Nokia mobile phone interface while driving an Audi, this makes you invincible!
• Min. 72: refer to comments about the Minority Report interface… really, there’s still somebody who thinks the Burj al Arab is a very cool setting for an action movie?? Yes, it used to be, but that was, like, 320 movies ago …
• Min 80: No Audi will ever get damaged in a car chase.
• Any non-Audi car will fall over, hence: buy Audi! Or else your car will fall over and a hand-painted burst of flames will signify that it exploded. Not with the Audi, of course! Take out your Nokia and tell all your friends about it!!
• Min. 91: Even when a shot of a camera moving around a black Audi is superimposed on an aquarium, creating the immaculate illusion of the (unbreakable) Audi to smash into said aquarium, there will never be a single scratch on any black Audi. Hence: Buy Audi, brand of the champions! (Despite Audis being unbreakable, for shooting the scene it looks they used Lego cars to make it appear more convincing, like transcending the idea of a car crash and making a more general point about all this being a child’s play IF you drive an Audi, silver or black. The red one is for social occasions only).
• Min. 104: Is this is the best showdown ever? The two opponents taking the time to dress in white Olympic fencing gear and fighting it out with the foil??? Maybe the two actors were out of contract time or were taking the Audis out on a spin, so the whole scene plays out without even pretending they are present on the set, full-face fencing masks and all…

Summary: I think it’s very likely that BMW and Samsung paid for the whole film, just to make a fool out of the competition. Worked well: Nokia has gone the way of all things mortal within half a year of the movie being released. I expect Audi to call it quits any day now. Andy Lau, on the other hand, is as unbreakable as a silver, red or black Audi. This abomination of a film cannot do him any harm. Everybody else should be thoroughly ashamed on themselves.

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