Athena wondering about her involvement in Take Five…
Too late! Tony Leung Hung Wah has already capitalized on her name!
The same can not be said of Take Five, a Hong Kong's style slasher. Also made during the hyper active year of 1998, this is one of the only 2 occasions at this time Chu worked outside of Wong Jing's workshop. But, by getting to work for Tony Leung Hung Wah, she got from Charybde to Scylla! The least talented of the Tony working in the industry, Leung has repeatedly produced low budget features as dreadful as Philip Ko's flicks of the same period. Take Five is a relatively big production for his standard but no improvement has been made in any department. The end result is just plain bad. This poor imitation of slashers has no tension, no imaginative murders, no interesting characters… In one word: nothing. In a typical Wong Jing's move, the directors seem to only rely on the actors performances to provide some entertainment. But even them can't make miracles. At best, the most lenient viewers may get a few smiles when seeing Elvis Tsui in a Jean Reno's Leon imitation… Athena's part is a sideline of the main story which is certainly not a bad thing for her given the film's utter mediocrity. With no character to work on, the actress let her natural charm do the work in a basic love story with Edmond Leung. It's enough to make her scenes the best the movie has to propose but there is no real pride to boast off given the lack of competition.
Donnie thinking about the road to stardom, while Athena's waiting for the director to take care of the film
Another work without Wong Jing that ended up to be a similar production to the lacklustre Hero of Swallow, done 2 years earlier. Once again, nothing to be really proud of. But at least, Shanghai Affairs had some potential. The casting gathers a few talents as the spectacular martial artist Donnie Yen as well as the always charismatic mainland Chinese actor Yu Rong Guang. Unfortunately, none of them were at the best of their career. Having left Yuen Woo Ping a few years ago, Donnie was acting in small productions and trying to create a new style of choreography on TV or in his new directorial efforts. None of them were very successful with the audience. As for Yu, the time of Mirage, Terracotta Warrior or Project S was behind him and he was then a mercenary ready to participate in any production willing to use him, even the worst ones! Shanghai Affairs tells the story of two doctors settling down in a little village of China . In their efforts to help the locals, they confront a triad gang and meet love in the process… A basic story but still tolerable if put in good hands. Too bad, the original director left half way through and Donnie took charge the rest of the project, at a time where he was still inexperienced for such a task. Things became worst with the very tight time schedule the wannabe director inherited. Given all those factors, the end result was not that bad. Some shots had style (most of the scenes involving the full axe gang), the main characters had the minimal psychological development needed and a few impressive martial moves were well displayed. Athena Chu replayed the same parts she was doing at the beginning of her career but her improved acting skills were overshadowed by the lack of chemistry between her and Donnie Yen, and by some dubious script choice (she is mute during the first half of the film). Clearly, this kind of “flower pot part” was not worthy of the actress anymore.