out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
Anna and the King
|*Also starring: ||Mano Maniam, Ling Bai, Kee Thuan Chye, Teoh Kah Yong, Randall Duk Kim, Kenneth Tsang||
Review by MrBrown
3 stars out of 4
Fox chose an ideal year to produce and release Andy Tennant's lavish
non-musical treatment of the oft-told true story of the meeting of minds
between King Mongkut (Chow Yun-Fat) and English schoolteacher Anna
Leonowens (Jodie Foster) in 1862 Siam. After all, it can only look good
compared to this year's other screen version of the tale, Warner Bros.'
woefully misguided animated adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's
venerable musical _The_King_and_I_. That fact aside, however, _Anna_,
while taking the occasional dramatic misstep, is a pretty solid drama on
its own terms, boasting beautiful pageantry, smart political intrigue,
and a convincing rapport between leads.
While they are a unit for most of the film, taken individually, Foster
and Chow have differing degrees of success. Foster is good, but her
performance is a big step down from her Oscar-caliber work of recent
years (last in 1997's _Contact_), hampered by an accent that is only
sporadically convincing. Chow, on the other hand, is terrific. Although
he made a name for himself in Hong Kong as an action star, the King is
the first American role where he really shows the key to his appeal--it's
not necessarily the gun(s) in his hand(s), but his suave charm and
charisma. He's also a solid dramatic actor; not for nothing do his
legendary collaborations with John Woo have such a potent emotional
impact. Anna may get top billing in this retelling, but it's the king
who commands the show.
Buy movie posters!