It takes a good half-hour before we begin to comprehend who’s who and who’s aligned with whom. Even then, the story — based on a presumably popular novel — is plotted with spying and more than one alliance switcheroo. Everyone seems concerned about locating a stolen coin cast, yet the object is almost a MacGuffin; The Four exists to wow viewers with its heroes’ special-effects-assisted skills and powers.
For example, the wheelchair-bound woman known as Emotionless (Liu Yi Fei, The Forbidden Kingdom) possesses a psychic ability to read minds; Iron Hands (Collin Chou, also from The Forbidden Kingdom) yields what gamers might call a “power punch”; and Life Snatcher (Ronald Cheng, Fatal Contact) is an underworld debt collector who can leap tall buildings in a single bound — but hey, in these wirework epics, who can’t?
And those are just the good guys! The story’s evil overlord can burn and/or freeze his enemies with a single touch. I only wish he had the power to shorten the screenplay; as with so many Asian efforts, The Four is too long by a good quarter. By the time a zombie army is thrown needlessly onto an already overstuffed comic-book canvas, the demand on the audience reaches a breaking point.
Before then, the film is nice and fluffy — an agreeable mix of the supernatural and earthly ass-kicking. —Rod Lott