Bizarre reimagining of history

Bizarre reimagining of history
Outcast starring Andy On as Shing (back facing camera) and Hayden Christensen.

Review Period Action


98 minutes / Opens tomorrow / *½

The story: Wracked with guilt for taking part in the bloody Crusades, Jacob (Hayden Christensen) flees to the East. He tries to numb himself with opium, but reluctantly ends up chaperoning a princess, Lian (Liu Yifei), and her heir-to-the-throne younger brother, Zhao (Bill Su), as their ruthless brother Shing (Andy On) chases after them. They eventually seek refuge in the mountains, where they run into the White Ghost, none other than Jacob's former comrade-in-arms, Gallain (Nicolas Cage).

During the 12th century, from the Middle East to the so-called Far East, English was the common tongue spoken and understood by all. Who knew?

Apart from fascinating historical nuggets such as these, the film is also bold in its radical reimagining of Chinese imperial culture as the emperor actually has physical contact with his children and hugs them.

Frankly, it is bizarre that this Chinese-FrenchCanadian production would be so tone-deaf and insensitive.

While it is slated for the China market, it is hard to see why this would appeal. Not only does everyone speak English, but the prince and princess also have to rely on a white man to rescue them - and not just any white man, but one who is doped up on opium.

Miraculously, the drug does not seem to impair Jacob's ability to take out pesky armed guards and assassins.

Impressively, Christensen also sports a modernlooking fauxhawk which always looks sharp even though they are on the run. Guess grooming is important even when under duress.

The actor's career seems to have gone into freefall after the high-profile Star Wars movies in 2002 and 2005. Before long, he might be staring into the abyss that is Cage's preserve.

To be fair, Cage is just wildly inconsistent, veering between strong projects, such as Kick-Ass (2010), and turkeys, such as Season Of The Witch (2011).

Here, he stumbles around drunk and angry, blind in one eye and brandishing a snake inexplicably wrapped around one fist.

Does he need the pay cheque that badly, or is he that oblivious when he gets into his hey-look-at-me-I'm-acting zone? Whatever it is, Cage can look forward to yet another Razzie nomination for his fine work here.

This article was first published on Oct 8, 2014.
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