Lulu Wong is best known to the world as a glamorous businesswoman, but she has another identity – Silver Hawk – a masked, bike-riding superheroine ready to take on the villains of the near future. Her toughest mission yet comes when a pioneering scientist is kidnapped by a gang who intend to use his knowledge of Artificial Intelligence to brainwash society through their mobile phones. And if that wasn't enough, hot on her trail is Rich Man, Lulu's closest childhood friend who is now a cop intent on bringing Silver Hawk to justice.
With Anita Mui sadly no longer with us and Maggie Cheung now an international arthouse queen, Michelle Yeoh remains the biggest Hong Kong actress still kicking ass in the country's action flicks. Silver Hawk is her third superhero movie, the first two being 1993's superb Heroic Trio and its sequel, in which she was teamed with Mui and Cheung. Sadly, this throwaway yarn rarely delivers the goods.
Like director Jingle Ma's best known film – Tokyo Raiders – this has one eye on the domestic Hong Kong box office and the other on the international market. The film was shot in both Cantonese and English, leaving the English language version with incredibly stilted dialogue that does no favours to either the story or the actors involved – Yeoh acted far better in the Bond adventure Tomorrow Never Dies, where she bantered comfortably with Pierce Brosnan. Here, like everyone else, her English lines are delivered in uncertain, faltering sentences – even worse is Luke Goss, playing bionic-armed bad guy Alexander Wolfe, who has similar troubles with his native tongue. Ironically, the least embarrassing scenes are those involving the child actors playing the young Lulu and Rich in flashback, because they are performed naturally in Cantonese.
Likewise, the action in Silver Hawk lacks the both the budget of Hollywood and the invention of the best Hong Kong cinema. Ma serves up a variety of set pieces – a bike chase and subsequent fight on top a moving truck, a showdown between our heroes and a gang of roller skating, hockey stick wielding thugs and any number of straight-forward kung fu duels, but there's nothing here that's not been done better a hundred times before. There is only one memorable sequence, a well choreographed scene in which Silver Hawk fights a quartet of villains who are attached to bungee ropes in Wolfe's lair – there's a originality and panache here lacking elsewhere.
Silver Hawk is not a terrible film – it certainly moves quickly and never bores. But it has all the style and impact of a glossy car commercial, with a futuristic metallic sheen bathing the screen, cheap techno bleepings on the soundtrack and way too much pointless slow motion. And although the ever-likeable Yeoh gives it her best shot, her production credit means she doesn't leave the film entirely blameless for its shortcomings.
Hong Kong director and cinematographer. Ma has worked as a director of photography on such films as Stephen Chow's God of Cookery and Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master II and Rumble in the Bronx, and directed flashy action films like the hit Tokyo Raiders, Goodbye, Mr. Cool and Silver Hawk.