Jay Sun’s directorial debut, the action film Switch starring Chinese superstar Andy Lau, is a major disappointment except for its visually stunning cinematography. Originally the film was set to be released in 2012, but was pushed back a year to convert it to 3D. Even pushing it back to work on 3D effects did nothing to take away from the confusing and ridiculous plot line.
The film revolves around two halves of an ancient scroll painting called “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains.” One half is located in the Zhejiang Art Museum in China. The other is in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. These paintings attract the attention of a group of British smugglers and another group led by a Yakuza thug Yamamoto. As the paintings become endangered, Hong Kong sends their special agent Xiao Jinhan (Andy Lau), a James Bond knockoff, to protect them. From here the plot begins to twist and turn until you don’t know which way is up. The different halves of the painting switch hands so many times that it becomes insignificant when it does. The Hong Kong Agent ends up being in a different country almost every scene chasing after the painting. The plot then becomes even harder to muddle through with repetitive conflicts and some that don’t even fit in the plot at all. The last thing I expected to see in the climatic battle was the two opposing fighters taking the time to stop and put on fencing gear before a nonsensical fencing duel. At the end of the movie you are left with confusing questions that shouldn’t be there when the plot is so simple and straightforward.
Cinematographer Don McCuaig (XXX and Bruce Almighty) deserves all the accolades for this film. Each scene is lit vastly differently from the last. The different color schemes used make what you are watching look like a painting moving on the screen. Blue lighting is often used in the fight scenes that give it an intense feel as the camera weaves in and out of the action. The sets are also constructed perfectly in each scene to compliment the lighting used. The most beautiful set had to be Yamamoto’s house. Every room is more radiant than the previous one. In one scene he is sitting at a white piano surrounded by different pools of water and around them are a legion of candles. The whole room is surrounded in dim blue lighting that creates a fantastic effect of the candles blending in with the water.
Fascinating locations enhance the beautiful cinematography throughout the film. Part of Switch was filmed in Dubai, providing endless skyscrapers and resorts to use in the film. Some of Dubai’s most beautiful landmarks are showcased in the film, such as the Burj Khalifa, Atlantis The Palm, and Burj Al Arab. All three constructs would make anybody gasp. The Burj Khalifa is the absolute tallest building in the world. Many would notice it from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol which also centers around a secret agent. The building stands at an astounding 2,722 ft. and has more than 160 stories. Another portion of the film takes place at Atlantis The Palm which is the first resort that was built on the artificial island The Palm. The resort provides the location used for the car chase scene involving the Hong Kong agent where he takes his driving to the hallways. The inside of the resort is showcased as he drives throughout the halls and up the staircases. Anybody would be lucky to have these locations at their disposal for filming.
Switch definitely did not live up to expectations. All of the amazing locations and beautiful cinematography did not make up for the mediocre acting and poor plot structure. I feel like they were wasted on this film. When the credits rolled I was satisfied visually for sure, but had this empty feeling that was left by an unfulfilling story. My advice, if you want to enjoy this movie, watch it with the sound off and let your eyes enjoy the beautiful scenery.