The Illuminated Lantern
Leave it to Hong Kong filmmakers to take a time travel premise and turn it into a gambling movie. Ekin Cheng is the gambler, and he has his eyes on taking the high rollers in Vegas. But things go wrong, and he ends up off a cliff -- but not before a mystic Indian talisman transports him, and the detective chasing him (Cecilia Cheung) back in time -- but only three days back, where they have to race to save lives, and of course fall in love. Bad jokes, bad English acting, and a silly time travel script that doesn't entirely add up, but what the heck, there is a lot of fun to be had along the way, and Ekin and Cecilia are entirely charming and can get you through the weak parts, and the Las Vegas desert setting adds some novelty into the production (for a Hong Kong film).
I just saw this on the International Channel and was mesmerized. It didn't have the flow of a Hollywood movie, which is part of its charm. Like in Donny Darko, there's a time tunnel, future and past merging, regrets, etc. The Chinese themes helped me identify with it: Asian guy, unlucky with women, gambling obsession, weirdness with gay people, in love with the cute Asian girl.The main Character, Ren, is macho and self confident to a fault. He doesn't value his friends; he is impulsive and messes around with the ladies. Living day by day, not caring about anyone but himself. But this weird car accident and memory SNAFU give him a second chance, and the story unfolds around his change of conscience and a quirky love story.It also reminds me a little of Memento. I don't think its very much like Groundhog Day, like the other reviewer... not that comic. Time is used as a ploy to deal with the main theme, which I think is regret.I enjoyed the suspended disbelief, partly because it was a bit cheesy. And I do love casino scenes, so that helped me enjoy it.I gave it a 9 out of 10. -hc
The movie itself is a confusing mess of time lines that probably has loopholes I missed because it lost me somewhere along the way. What saves this movie is its humor, some of its jokes even made me laugh out loud, a feat not easily done - I'm generally one for spontaneous humor and not set ups. The chemistry between the leads also helped warm me to their characters. Wished they downplayed the sci-fi bit and gave the talented Jonathan Ke Quan a bigger role. 7/10
This is a little different film that I've seen from Hong Kong. This time a guy goes to Vegas to prove that he's the best card player/dealer. Things don't work as planned. But a with the help of a girl and some magic stones, he gets a second chance. It nothing new, as there are many films with this similar premise like Groundhog Day, 12:01, Run Lola Run. Those films are better, but this movie is entertaining enough to keep your interest with a nice mix of action, drama, romance, and a bit of science fiction.
**1/2 (Out of 4)