Review: Control 控制 (2013)

Control is based on American Jack Messitt’s story Remote Control. So now we have here a Hollywood script translated and made for the Asian audience.

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Many Chinese films are released each year but only a few tend to receive great praises for their storytelling. Control had an aim – to present a refreshing concept in terms of Chinese thrillers. I do agree that improvement in scripts for Chinese films would do everybody a good benefit. It does brings to attention then – does a story written by an American and translated into Chinese brings us a fresh look at Chinese (or even Asian) cinema? Hmm, I really looked forward to the film when it was released. There’s Daniel Wu and what’s been promised as a cool thriller concept. It’s definitely a good effort but certainly didn’t really raise the bar for Chinese films.

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Set in a futuristic city, Daniel Wu plays an insurance agent named Mark. He works hard to provide for his his mother (Kara Hui) who has schizophrenia. Even the greatest man has flaws, so does Mark. He becomes guilt-ridden after committing a terrible mistake but what’s worse? He just opened up a chance for himself to be controlled by a mysterious being who makes use of his guilt.

Moving on, here’s some thoughts on the film.

The setting

The film’s setting is supposedly “futuristic” city but the atmosphere doesn’t seem to be there. Once in awhile, a few “futuristic looking trains” pass by and there’s some sense of future technology. But on the whole, it doesn’t look like we’re living in a futuristic place. Nevertheless, this isn’t really a shortfall. I think they did the best they could with the budget they’ve got. At least, everything looked real. There have been worse visual effects in other films that make you wonder what happened.

Plot twists…

“Yes, we love plot twists! Keep me engaged!” is perhaps what most audience feel. That feeling where you’re glued to your seat eager to know what’s gonna happen next is awesome.

There are some plot twists in the film but…lacking substance. Effort has been put in to craft the plot but it isn’t easy to create an exciting screenplay. Nonetheless, I applaud the effort that’s been put to plotting this film. The setups are there and every bit links up at the end. Perhaps what’s lacking is more excitement. More ticking clocks, maybe? Better character development as well because there’s not much in the protagonist’s growth. For awhile, we’re just watching out to find out who’s the mysterious mastermind and lost connection with the characters.

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Daniel Wu

An actor with potential box office attraction but the film seems to be facing strong competition from Andy Lau’s The White Storm and Jackie Chan’s Police Story 2013. Looking at these 3 films, Control is actually the weakest in terms of script and cast. Daniel Wu’s character arc doesn’t comes off that well compared to his competitors, and the film lacks depth.

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To sum things up, the film would have been better if more thought has been put into crafting the characters. There is certainly a good premise to be exploited. But what’s aspiring is that filmmakers have now put their target on creating a good story, at least Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung think that way.

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