Reviewed by: ewaffle
"Operation Cougar" is a bad movie, something I can tell without knowing a single line of dialog. The language spoken in Mandarin and the subtitles are in Chinese but it is clear from what is on the screen that a lot of talent was wasted on this one. It is an action movie--a plane is hijacked with both the People's Republic and Chinese Taipei (or the Republic of China, if you will) involved in rescuing the hostages.
There is very little action and a lot of talk and no matter what is being said by whom to whom, extremely long speeches, of which there are many in "Operation Cougar" don't belong in an action movie. Meetings in Beijing and Taipei were shown, oddly enough as a long series of still images of the participants in the meetings, generally shot from odd angles. These stills were intercut with still more stills (someone should have remembered this was a motion picture) showing daily life in the two cities, apparently indicating that decisions were being made without panicing the population.
The action itself is terrible. Most of it happens so far from the camera that it loses any value it might have, with one shocking and cruel exception. It is noisy, at least, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
Gong Li wasn't really wasted in her role as a nurse--this was her second movie and she looked lovely and occasionally desperate or fearful as needed. Ge You is as intense and committed as any film actor working today. There must be some reason for an artist of his great talent to act in such a turkey but it wasn't clear from watching it.
It seems that there was a point to all this, and it wasn't to make an entertaining movie. From reviews and synopsis on the web it seems that showing the possibility of friendship and comradely cooperation across the Taiwan Strait was why it was made. The maxim "If you want to send a message, call Western Union" has been credited to various early Hollywood moguls, most often Sam Goldwyn. If those responsible for "Operation Cougar" were aware of it they would have made a very different movie.
I can think of only one reason to watch this movie--if you like to keep lists of continuity faults, this will be a very rich vein to mine. The worst (or best) example is the plane that gets hijacked--while in the air it is a high-winged propeller driven craft but after it lands it has become a regional jet airliner.
Reviewed by: Brian Thibodeau
Summary: The one Zhang Yimou doesn't talk about...
Leaden, heartless sophomore effort from the director and assistant director of the acclaimed RED SORGHUM (1989) is a bland-looking contemporary hijack thriller that, for all its naive attempts to portray the possibility of a unified front between China and Taiwan in a time of crisis, relegates much of the premise's inherent suspensecovert meetings, Chinese-Taiwan politics, international cover-ups and frenzied U.S. media investigationsto a series of still-photo montages (including what appears to be a surplus of generic stock photography) explained away with breakneck narration, while foregrounding a tedious back-and-forth game (in live action) of stalling and trickery between Chinese/Taiwanese military negotiatiors and the Taiwanese "Asia Special Black Mission Group" that has emergency-landed a passenger plane carrying a high-ranking businessman in a mainland field. Surprisingly, Gong Li won China's Hundred Flowers Award for Best Supporting Actress for her thoroughly unremarkable performance.
Reviewer Score: 2