Zhou Yu's Train Sun Zhou

Few faces in the world can command the screen like China's Gong Li. Beauty aside, the world-renowned actress can express a wider range of emotion in a single close-up than most actors can over an entire film. She is the Garbo of our generation. Best known for her Chinese historical dramas (Raise The Red Lantern, Ju Dou, Farewell My Concubine) with former paramour and collaborator director Zhang Yimou, Gong Li falters in this contemporary love story, Zhou Yu's Train. She plays the title character who rides the train every weekend to make love to Chen Qing (Tony Leung Ka Fai, best known to Western audiences in The Lover). At the same time, another woman loves Chen Qing, while a man who regularly rides the train (newcomer Sun Hong Lei) lusts after Zhou Yu. What's confusing is that Gong Li plays Zhou Yu as well as the other woman, whose character is hardly on screen and adds little to the drama. Gong Li does manage to instil Zhang Yu with her trademark heroic qualities: tough yet alluring, strong and seductive. However, despite a good performance even Gong Li can't flesh out Zhou Yu, whose motivations are vague and whose attraction to the two men remains unconvincing. Director Sun Zhou's visual style and choice of music feels like second-hand Wong Kar-Wai, whose brilliant In The Mood For Love ached with longing in every frame. The digital transfer is sharp and rich, but this remains a bare-bones DVD that offers a trailer featuring a lame English narration. Despite Zhou Yu's Train shortcomings, this is a cheapskate way to treat this film, and sends the wrong message to consumers that foreign films are second-rate. Plus: Trailer. (Columbia TriStar)