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Anna and the King

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Anna and the King

Starring: Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat
Director: Andy Tenant
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 147 Minutes
Release Date: December 1999
Genres: Drama, Romance

*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.

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