Silver Hawk Review

You can’t help but feel that the 15 certificate imposed on Silver Hawk by the BBFC is going to lose the film its target audience. It may consider itself to be nothing more than mindless entertainment yet it is mindless to such a degree that surely it will appeal only to very young children. The characterisation is flimsy in the extreme, the plot developments can spotted a mile off, and the dialogue is perfunctory at best. Indeed, its superhero antics feel like a spin-off from some non-existent computer game (it has all the “qualities” of one of the Tomb Raider films or Super Mario Bros) or perhaps some eastern cousin to one of those Hulk Hogan flicks which would plague cinemas every few years during the 1990s.

Yet it’s not some former wrestler in the lead role, but Michelle Yeoh, star of, amongst others, The Stunt Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Moreover, it’s clear that this is no simple ‘take the money and run’ exercise as she also serves as both producer and executive producer. So just what is Yeoh doing in a film as the titular socialite/mysterious superhero? A film in which an evil mastermind kidnaps a professor in order to control the minds of the population at large?

Disappointingly, there are no easy answers. Yeoh adopts that fixed smile known only to those struggling to entertain young children and as such is impenetrable. And yet it is abundantly clear that Silver Hawk isn’t a very good film. Everything about it feels rehashed, from the pristine vision of its future to the gadget laden heroine (including a KITT-style motorbike). Indeed, it could also be said of Jingle Ma (one time cinematographer, now a director of moderate fare such as Tokyo Raiders) that his direction is similarly reliant on various toys; had all of the slow motion been played in real time then surely Silver Hawk would be half the length. Moreover, he adopts a similar approach to his first feature - Hot War - and has the majority of the film spoken in English, yet whilst this may open it up to more territories and thus a wider audience, it also seriously hampers a number of performances. In fact, given the post-synching employed by Hong Kong filmmakers, all of the actors are in some way affected even if their command of the language is fine.

That said, the English dialogue does allow a place for Luke Goss on the cast list. Of course, it probably goes without saying that his performance is nothing special, yet in occupying the role of the bald-headed evil mastermind he does, perversely, recall one Richard O’Brien. And who would have thought in the late-eighties when one was in the charts with Bros and the other was hosting The Crystal Maze, that the two would become almost synonymous, however inadvertent it may be? Indeed, it’s indicative of Silver Hawk as a whole that such “delights” (note the inverted commas) are the only things to occupy and kind of interest.

The Disc

Silver Hawk comes to Region 2 DVD in slightly disappointing form. The soundtrack is fine with a choice of either DD5.1 or a more dynamic DTS option – both of which are technically sound – but the picture quality is decidedly lacking. Whilst we get an anamorphic transfer of the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a clean print, the image is decidedly soft and lacking contrast. At first it appears as though such a look may be intentional, but when comparing it to the theatrical trailer which also appears on the disc, we can see how the latter is far crisper and more defined, especially in the darker tones. As for extras, as well as the trailer, we also get a promo for Born to Fight (another forthcoming title from Momentum Asia) and a slideshow consisting of a number of production stills.

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