Recently re-watched The Usual Suspects, and while it has long been a favorite of mine, this was the first time I noticed its distinct Hong Kong flavor. Couldn't find anything online about its being a remake of a Hong Kong film, so I emailed my favorite Hong Kong cinema expert, who wrote back no, it's not a remake. But my expert agreed that the style was very Hong Kong.
I understand that bad movies come from Hong Kong, just as they do from Hollywood. But when it comes to the forensic crime genre, the world could do with a lot more of their style and a lot less of what passes for ours.
What's better about The Usual Suspects? 1) It has the right number of overlapping layers of deception and intrigue: not too many, not too few; 2) The characters are more interesting than the explosions; 3) The whole thing, including the production design, fits together like a fine Swiss watch; and 4) It's not totally about the blood.
Hong Kong movies can be quite violent, but perhaps because of the legacy of martial arts geniuses like Jackie Chan, the emphasis is on action, not hemo-technical displays like those spewing from Hollywood these days. There are too many morally stunted special effects guys out there, trying to win kudos from mentally stunted "critics" full of pseudo-aesthetic excuses. Don't remind me that the blood is fake. I know that, and so do most viewers. But the invitation to cruelty and voyeuristic pleasure at the agonized suffering of others -- are they fake, too?
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