Film & DVD Review
Keung is only a transcriber with lots of imagination. Once his girlfriend Apple went on a business trip, he got a sudden chance to approach a Japense stewardess, Yurei, a new comer next door. Thereafter, he discovered that Yurei is mentally disordered and pretends to be a stewardess. Her suitcase holds the broken hand of Apple! When he is about to call the police, Yurei appears, holding a knife...
I bought The Stewardess a while back as I remembered reading good things about it on the Asian DVD Guide forum. It was said to be a decent suspense thriller, or something to that effect, starring Sam Lee. After watching it I'm at least glad whoever it was that said that got one thing right. It does star Sam Lee.
The main outline of the plot is quite simple. Sam Lee stars as Keung, a man with a bit of a taste for women. One night he picks up a girl (Apple) who is a bit dominant to say the least. The next day it is clear that she thinks she was not just a one-night stand and they are together. With that sorted she takes him to meet her father, who just happens to be one of the local triad's boss. There her father tells him in no uncertain terms, that if he hurts or cheats on her, he is going to be in serious trouble. Having to keep her pleased at all times, he obeys her every command.
Enter now Yurei, a Japanese woman who appears to be a stewardess, just like Apple. Keung is instantly attracted to her, as he has always wanted to bed a Japanese woman, but with Apple around he has to be very careful. One time, with Apple away on an extended trip with her job, Keung uses this chance to get Yurei. From there on, even once Apple is back, Yurei starts appearing more often in their lives, in very strange ways, and it quickly becomes clear that she is no ordinary girl, with a potentially psychopathic side.
That'll do for the plot. It isn't deep at all; it has no surprises, as from the opening scene you pretty much know what Yurei is going to be like once she is introduced into the film. Nothing much really changes in approach as the film carries on. Most events that take place are really quite predictable, leaving no suspense or interest in the film in some places. The only events, which were a surprise to me, were the ones, which are not a good reflection on the film at all. I tried to give the film some credit while watching it, and that even though it was predictable, the people in it would at least be as true to life as possible. That credit slowly diminished, but in one scene it went so far off the scale in the low direction that I had to laugh at the film, not with it. Sod giving away some of the plot, as I you ever have any reason to watch this film, it isn't for the story, but it is in the scene where Yurei goes psycho on the triads. Now triads, from what I gather, live a more dangerous life than your average person, and are no strangers to a fight. So when you got about three or four of you in a room, and one rather strange acting woman, any betting money would be on the triads. Just cause this woman starts acting all schizo and psycho, any self-respecting triad would not let her get up, go to her bag, pull out a big kitchen knife, go up to each of you and stab you to death. Even if she got one, the others presumably would notice and either shoot her or prepare themselves to fight back. Not in this film.
Not only do they have stupid scenes like this, but in some of the scenes where Keung is running down a road, and he is meant to be sprinting, they clearly only were allowed to film on something like a 15 meter stretch of road. Do you know what you are like when you trying to pretend to be sprinting, but in slow motion, and you kind of try to do it on the spot? Well that is what the running scenes are like in this film. To make matters worse, the pretend sprinting in slow motion type of running is then played back... you guessed it, in slow motion. In about 4 or 5 supposed sprinting, or at least running fast, strides he covers about 2 meters or something like that. He also can't really outrun a woman in stilettos. Scriptwriters, you're fired... What do you mean I don't have the power to do that? Ok, fine, but I don't ever want to have to work with you again. Idiots.
The characters in The Stewardess are certainly very interesting. Hey! Don't try and take anything positive out of that comment. Interesting can have negative connotations too you know! And here, it most definitely does! They are all entirely one dimensional, being one way and no way else. They range from being stupid (in the thick sense) to being stupid (in the terrible character sense) to being plain irritating (in the Sam Lee sense). The only possibly positively interesting one is Yurei (who is acted by Seina Kasugai), mainly because she really is a bizarre character. She's of very few words, primarily because she repeats the same ones over and over again, and goes from acting pretty normal, to being totally schizo and deranged, to being completely psycho, to being very seductive (towards Keung). That's probably the only reason I made it through the entire film. Even though I didn't like it, I was probably like, "but I want to see what she's going to do next!" For a parallel, think the scene from Howard Stern's Private Parts where they New York big shots are going over Howard's ratings... "But why do they listen to him if they don't like him?!"... "Most common answer..." - you know the rest.
Given that the DVD cover says "Introducing Seina Kasugai", I'm assuming that this was her first film. While the film may be a bit of a pile of poo, it must have been pretty difficult to effectively act so, well, strangely and give a very convincing impression of being completely la-la, cuckoo, or whatever phrase you prefer, in the head. In all honesty she is the only reason to watch this film if you really have to watch it. More incentive is the fact that the film makers want to show her off as much as possible, so they've conveniently managed to fit in a couple of scenes where she really isn't wearing very much at all... bra and panties at most. Obviously they then had to make sure that the camera panned over as much of her flesh as possible... I'm definitely not complaining, and wouldn't be surprised if she turned up in a few Cat. III films in the future. However, just incase anyone really does go to watch the film because of this, I've taken a few screen caps for you, just so you don't have to subject yourself to the rest of the film...
Sam Lee... what to say about him? I think he is a bit of a 'love or hate' type actor, I try to like his roles, as I loved the first one I ever saw him in, but not in this film or quite a few others. I think he has been unfortunately typecast in too many films. He always seems to play the geeky or weird type person. This may be down to his looks, but even when he is a cop or something like that, his character always seems to have some strange eccentricity. Personally I don't think he has ever, well from all the films of his I've seen, managed to top his debut film Made In Hong Kong. This was an excellent film, and he was superb in his role, having no reputation or typecast character traits. Now though, for me he is just a bit of a gimmick actor. I know he is capable of doing better than this, but I feel he needs a director to realise this and let him have better roles.
There isn't really anything else to say about this film. While writing this review I've rewatched a few scenes, and they made me cringe a little and that made me remember the cringes I had while watching it originally. Personally I would have to say avoid The Stewardess.
Audio & Subtitles
The Cantonese and Mandarin audio options are both only stereo tracks. I watched the film in Cantonese. There wasn't really anything that special about this track. If anything it was a little too quiet at times, as I found I had to turn the volume up in some scenes despite it having been pretty much fine before hand. The volume balance levels are also a little off in places. There are sound effects for things that should have been a lot quieter than they actually were considering how loud other effects in the scenes were. These are just minor criticisms though, cause I am being a little picky! All the speech was perfectly clear, so there are no major complaints.
The English subtitles are pretty much standard subs. White, with the black border, positioned on the film print. There are quite a few grammar and spelling errors throughout the film, but not enough to become too distracting. On the whole, they are ok.
The letterboxed presentation for The Stewardess is not bad. I've seen better, but I have also seen many others that are much worse. The print is, on the whole, rather clean with little speckling or anything like that. Detail levels look not bad, and the print doesn't come across as being too soft. Grain levels are rather low, which is good. Now the bad bits. In quite a few scenes the print does come across as being rather pale, with a lot of colours not really coming across as being that vibrant. In scenes where there are highly contrasting colours next to each other there is a little colour bleeding in places. Black levels are also not that great. Rather than blacks being very deep and, well... black, they definitely look much more like a dark grey. So basically it is a decent enough print, but with colour reproduction which could have been better.
DVD & Extras
As is pretty much standard with older Hong Kong DVDs, extras are at a minimum. There is the trailer for The Stewardess, and also trailers for Partners and Fighting to Survive. Lastly there are star files, two of which are in Chinese, one for Sam Lee, and the other for director Sam Leung. The third one is in English and it is for Sam Lee. Short and relatively sweet... kind of.
The Stewardess. Well the title is pretty accurate; the film does indeed contain stewardesses. In making sure they got this part write, they forgot about a decent script, decent plot and believable characters. No one's perfect, I know, but I would also like to believe that some people in the film industry aren't totally incompetent... Aren't I funny sometimes! :)
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