Well Go USA // 2012 // 119 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 3rd, 2013
A superhero saga from way, way overseas.
I've been on a run with reviewing movies based on works of literature specific to a culture I haven't the faintest clue about. The latest such entry -- of which I will gladly wax poetic out of complete ignorance -- is Gordon Chan's The Four, based on a novel called The Four Detective Guards by Wen Ruian. If the back-of-the-disc-case synopsis is correct, the book is "greatly-loved."
Does this love translate to the big screen, particularly to an uninformed lout like me? Sort of, but it essentially boils down to the eye candy, which thankfully is pretty cool.
Something dark, evil, and not of this world is stirring. Despite the best efforts of the constabulary phalanx and the secret service, this malevolent force, led by an even malevolenter wizard whose power is so vast that without pushback from four superheroes, the world would be lost.
These four superheroes eventually show up in the form of Coldblood, Iron hands, Emotionless, and Life Snatcher. Their powers are varied and useful in battling the undead horde. One guy has Super Blue Laser Kicking Ability; another unleashed fearsome Flaming Yellow Monster Punching; the lone female of the group, who's confined to a wheelchair, sports impressive telekinetic powers and will throw ninja stars and assorted debris at her antagonists; and finally the X-factor of the group, a Part-Vampire/Part-Angst-Ridden Drifter, who just might have enough mojo to take down the forces of evil.
The Four is pretty much all build-up. The film feels like a traditional superhero movie -- specifically a superhero team movie -- in that much time is spent upfront laying out our heroes' back stories and working out the particulars of getting them together. You've seen it before and the blueprint is followed here. When the good guys finally do hook up to coordinate their attack, Chan gets to have some fun and the visual-effects-laden battles deliver.
The highlight of this mayhem is the final confrontation between The Four, the Big Bad, and his undead henchmen...and it's a humdinger. Lots of powers, lots of pyrotechnics, lots of flamboyant comic book-inspired craziness. Is it enough to mandate a purchase? Not sure about that, since the build-up takes its time and the pacing suffers as a result.
Standard-issue Blu-ray from Well Go USA: a slick 2.20:1/1080p widescreen transfer, bolstered by a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (in Mandarin), a seven-minute making-of featurette, and deleted scenes.
The Four is worth a look just to see all this pent-up hero angst get unleashed in a flurry of whirling electric feet and fangs.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go USA
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Mandarin)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Mandarin)
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes