November 6, 2000 -- "Charlie's Angels" is another lightweight TV-to-movie vehicle that doesn't follow the original series very closely. This film departs from the original mainly in the action sequences, which are at a very high energy level, and they form a much bigger part of the story. It is more like a James Bond movie than the old "Charlie's Angels" TV show.
The plot is thin, with the Angels trying to figure out an industrial espionage puzzle involving a couple of software companies. The Angels are Natalie, (Cameron Diaz of "Being John Malkovich"), Dylan (Drew Barrymore of "Never Been Kissed" and Alex (Lucy Liu of "Shanghai Noon"). Bill Murray of "Rushmore" plays Bosley. The voice of Charlie is provided by John Forsythe, as in the original series.
The plot, as in many Kung-Fu movies, serves mainly as an excuse for a number of fights. The fight scenes in this film are very impressive, similar to those in "The Matrix." Cheung-Yan Yuen served as the Kung-Fu fight choreographer on the film and headed up the Hong Kong-based Kung-Fu team. Daxing Zhang, another Kung-Fu team leader, also worked on the Kung-Fu sequences in "The Matrix." The impressive fencing sequences were choreographed by Roberta Brown. There is also a lot of impressive stunt work in the film, including people hanging from helicopters, high falls and lots of explosions.
The biggest surprise in this movie is actor Crispin Glover, who became famous for his role as George McFly in the first two "Back to the Future" movies. Glover, who has been knocking around in bit parts for the past 15 years, gives a very strong performance as a ruthless, sword-wielding assassin. Glover, who is into martial arts, shows dazzling fencing ability and some serious Kung-Fu chops. Glover may have just found a new career in action movies. He's really quite good, and more than a little bit scary. While this role does not require much acting ability, it does require a lot of physical agility.
The Angels also performed their fight sequences well, although some of Lucy Liu's fight scenes were apparently done, at least in part, by a stunt double, according to the credits. This film is supposed to be a comedy, but when Bill Murray wasn't on the screen, there was not a lot to laugh at. Murray also seems to be in a separate movie. He seems very out of place in the midst of all this Kung-Fu action. There is a funny scene at the beginning of the film when a character makes a remark about another lame movie being made from an old TV show. There's also a funny scene when one of the angels tries to carry on a conversation with her boyfriend while she's in the middle of a fight. There are some funny sight gags here and there. A lot of cleavage is featured in the movie, but that's no surprise.
A couple of boyfriend characters, including Matt LeBlanc ("Friends") don't seem to serve any purpose in the film. The very funny Tom Green ("Road Trip") doesn't fit into the plot well at all as the character Chad. His best scene is an out take, shown while the credits are rolling. The misuse of Green is one of many lost opportunities in this film. The comedy and the action don't quite work together. The tone of the movie is mixed, part goofy and part murderous. I would have liked to seen more comedy, something along the lines of "Shanghai Noon" or "Rush Hour." Blood, vengeance and comedy don't make for a smooth mix in this attempt. This film rates a C.
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