Dangerous Liaisons

Supergirl (2015) s05e05 – Dangerous Liaisons

This episode could be a lot worse. It does have some significant lows—like when Azie Tesfai has to pretend to cry, which she’s absurdly bad at doing. Like, it’s uncomfortable. Especially when you realize they went with the best take. Got to be able to cry on “Supergirl,” it’s one of the show’s many go to things.

And Phil LaMarr is terrible as the evil Martian. Him being onscreen does nothing to improve his performance. Lena (Katie McGrath) has him prisoner and is doing experiments on him so she can rid the world of evil thoughts. She’s like a good guy Lex Luthor, driven mad not by Supergirl burning all her hair off but by not telling McGrath her secret identity, partially because McGrath’s from a supervillain family and does crazy stuff.

Like shooting a laser into the Antarctic to cause a global flood—when Martian David Harewood compares it to Noah’s flood is when, basically, I gave on Harewood. He’d been really weird all episode and it certainly seems like having a completely crappy story line has finally felled him. Bummer. Anyway, global flood, good thing there are superheroes like Supergirl, Harewood, and Dreamer. And Chyler Leigh. Can’t forget Chyler Leigh in her super-suit, which she actually gets to use as she saves people on the waterfront, which Tesfai sees, which triggers PTSD and a truly bad crying scene.

But when you get past all the bad stuff, it’s a fairly tightly told thriller. Mostly out of the cape Melissa Benoist and season love interest-to-be Staz Nair are trying to figure out what terrible thing female Mark Zuckerberg Julie Gonzalo is trying to do and it seems like it’s going to be apocalyptic. Once it’s clear it’s not a two-parter and there’s actual stakes… “Supergirl” delivers.

Yes, the villain looks like a bad Robocop cosplayer with some stolen Doc Ock arms but the tension’s still there.

Maybe it’s director Alysse Leite-Rogers, maybe it’s the script. But it’s an engaging hour-long show, which tolerable weak points.

Oh.

And I really, really, really miss Mon-El. Nair’s earnest but quite wanting.

Dangerous Liaisons (2012, Hur Jin-ho)

An adaptation of something like Dangerous Liaisons–where the ending isn’t just assured, but probably familiar to the viewer–requires good actors and an interesting approach. This version of Liaisons has both.

It takes place in 1931 China; the Japanese have started attacking and there’s unrest. Director Hur has a great sense of style for this era and setting, more than he has good composition, for example. When Liaisons becomes a manor film, Hur is just as capable as when he’s in CG-enhanced Shanghai.

The political unrest is just background action. The film’s concentration on the main events are all the melodrama and soap opera. It’s kind of unfortunate. As the film neared its inevitable conclusion, I was sad there was no attempt to break free a little with the supporting cast in particular.

As the scheming leads, Jang Dong-gun and Cecilia Cheung are great. Between the setting–it feels like an old Hollywood picture, just in color and grandiose–the performances and Jo Sung-woo’s playful score, it’s impossible to dislike them. Especially as Zhang Ziyi’s innocent victim lacks personality. She gets sympathy because it’s Dangerous Liaisons, but she doesn’t get particularly good until the third act.

The film feels a little long, with the technical competences and the acting keeping up the quality if not the interest. Most of the setting-specific adjustments to the source material happen in the first half. Everything else is predictable.

Liaisons is finely produced and acted, but there’s no spark.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Hur Jin-ho; screenplay by Yan Geling, based on the novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos; director of photography, Kim Byung-seo; edited by Nam Na-young; music by Jo Sung-woo; produced by Chen Wei Ming; released by Zonbo Media.

Starring Jang Dong-gun (Xie Yifan), Zhang Ziyi (Du Fenyu), Cecilia Cheung (Mo Jieyu), Shawn Dou (Dai Wenzhou), Lisa Lu (Madam Du Ruixue), Rong Rong (Mrs. Zhu) and Candy Wang (Beibei).


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