Manhattan Midnight

“So does she show them?”
“Does who show what?”
“Maggie Q. Does she show her two points?”
“Ah, the points question. Is that all you care about?”
“Ya – pretty much – isn’t that why you picked up this DVD?”
“Errr  . . . well . . . errr … Michael Wong is in it too”
“Huh, huh”

For a film that was made in 2001 and played at the Philadelphia and Hawaii International Film Festivals, this has been an unusually difficult movie to track down but it has finally received a DVD release. Thank goodness, the question can finally be put to rest. Whispers had been circulating around the Internet for the past few years that the darling of the fashion magazines and star in such films as Gen Y Cops, The Model from Hell, Naked Weapon and Magic Kitchen had gone topless in this strange hybrid of a film that was directed by Alfred Cheung (On the Run, Her Fatal Ways) and produced by Albert Yeung (of Twins fame), but takes place in the United States and is shot in English. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but it’s not a bad B movie and it does have Maggie Q in two roles. And anyone with a cool name like that deserves watching.

Living right here in New York City, Richard Grieco is a professional hitman who will kill anyone for the right price. Being a paid assassin is of course the hippest of all professions – they get to dress casual, have lots of time off and get to narrate their own stories in world-weary gruff voices. If I were a killer though I would want to have a lot more fun than Grieco’s killer does. He lives in a shabby apartment and just doesn’t seem to enjoy his work all that much – so what’s the point if it’s just another job. Grieco is looking a bit worn and skeezy around the edges these days – that look older men get when they are still trying to look young – as if dissolution is just a drink away - and he keeps his hair in a long rats nest look that no doubt was to make him look interesting but just makes him look unwashed. As his character tells us, he is the “man with no name” for reasons I have already forgotten – but this is better than being called the “man with no talent” – which would have created confusion among many viewers who already have applied that tag to his co-star in the film, Michael Fitzgerald Wong.
Wong plays Grieco’s go between and doesn’t have much to do in the film until the final few scenes when he has some fun shooting off a few rounds. Oddly, for this man who has usually been dubbed for his Hong Kong roles because of his poor Cantonese, he appears to be dubbed here as well though all the dialogue is in English (which weirdly I didn’t even notice for the first ten minutes since I was so busy reading the English subs!). Maybe he was too busy making his umpteenth “Option” movie to do so. He gives Grieco his next assignment – to kill a young woman before she can act again! No not really – actually I never quite understood why she had to be killed, but Grieco makes an easy mistake and kills the wrong woman who just happens to be her long lost twin. These things happen more often than you would think in New York City. A friend of mine went up to a woman just the other day on the subway and said “Hi, nice to see you” and was told that he was talking to this person’s twin. Fortunately for her, my friend is not a professional killer – though in truth I suspect she made up the twin story so that she could avoid talking to him!
Before he kills the wrong girl though he gets stuck in the elevator with her for a few hours and begins to fall in love with her as they chat, hold hands, take naps and read poetry to one another – just two typical New Yorkers making a personal connection in the big city – but being the consummate professional he kills her anyway only to soon realize that he botched it up. Feeling guilty about this minor mishap and in love with a dead woman he decides to instead protect her identical sister from the myriad of killers who come after her to finish the job. Parts of the film are just plain stupid – o.k. lots of it is – but it’s an easy watch with a few gun battles, portentous dialogue and some nice close up shots of Maggie’s quite stunning face.
It would be easy to knock her acting in this film, but I found it strangely mixed – as the very nice twin who gets killed she is extremely appealing, but she has a much harder time in portraying the tough slightly bitter sister. Hopefully, this is a sign that Maggie is a real sweetie in the real world. There are some supposedly dramatic lines she utters such as “you killed my sister didn't you” that felt so leaden that they could have hurt someone if they had fallen on them, but other times she sounds ok – so I really blame the director for not doing another take and bringing a better line reading out of her. But none of you came in for Maggie Q’s thespian skills did you? So to answer your question – does she show her two points - I would have to answer no. She only shows one point – and a fine point it is – but as one friend astutely observed this was the same point that we glimpsed in Naked Weapon – so one has to wonder about the other one. Isn’t it up to par – does it droop while the other rises – is there a “I Luv Daniel” tattoo emblazoned upon it - I have heard of actresses who will allow only one side of their face to be shot in profile, but never a breast – or has this breast mysteriously gone AWOL. Perhaps she is simply being coy and holding back the other breast like a hidden ace for the right time. Curious viewers would like to know. This nudity is displayed in a totally out of the blue and spurious love-making scene between her and Grieco – I hope she received a bonus for that hardship.

“So you aren’t going to have any pictures of her naked breast”
“Nope – sorry”
“What a complete wuss you are”
“True but I want this to be a G rated site and besides the increased traffic would crash this woeful site”
“Well I don’t want to buy the DVD so how am I going to see her points”
“I guess you will just have to wait for John Charles to review it for his HK Digital site. He fears no naked breasts.”

My rating for this film: 6.0