Reset [Ni shi ying jiu] (2017)

This one is basically an Action movie.

Terrorists kidnap the son of a young, single mother, Xia Tian, and threaten to kill him unless she brings them all the data on the scientific research she has been doing.  It’s a familiar situation.

But the research is about time travel, and when everything goes wrong, she travels back in time to set things right.  And before you know it, there are three of her running around.

The Chinese film industry has been trying very hard to compete with the Hollywood blockbuster, often (admittedly) with rather mixed results.  They’ve made a number of quite impressive blockbuster-style films in the last few years, including Battle of Memories (2017)Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe (2015), and Time Raiders (2016).  The best of these films have managed to combine a level of artistry comparable to many Hollywood films but with a different cultural voice.  Which is always welcome, as far as I’m concerned

Reset is, without question, one of the best of these:  not only does it look Hollywood, thanks to its sharp cinematography, good editing and well-staged action, but its CGI backgrounds are far better than those I’ve seen in any other Chinese film, and the Nexus tower, the main setting of the film, looks very real.

In fact, the one point where it fails to look particularly Hollywood is its action scenes, which clearly feature real stuntwork, and not the endless stream of  absurd digital “stunts” to which we’ve become accustomed.

Let’s face it, they just don’t look fake enough to be Hollywood.

Okay, I’ll admit that one sequence — where the terrorists force Xia Tian to drive into the back of a semi while they are cruising down the highway — is so obviously a piece of precision driving that it doesn’t seem all that “real.”

…But I’m not sure that the Hollywood CGI-laden version would have seemed any more realistic.

I suppose there are those who will complain that this one doesn’t match the way that time travel “really” works, or who will nitpick the obviously cinematic science at work here (you know what I mean, the detailed and complex theories movie scientists spout at great length, which have about as much to do with real physics as Bruce Willis’ hairbreadth escapes in the latest Die Hard sequel).  This isn’t the sort of movie that brags about how it was inspired by a real scientific theory.  Nor, for that matter, does it want to be.

But it is what it promises to be:  a high-energy action thriller, complete with chases, fights, gunplay and car crashes.

And it is a lot of fun.  There are better time-travel thrillers out there, but you won’t find too many in the new releases section at the local Family Video which are as good as this one.

Even if it didn’t come out of Hollywood.

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