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NOVEMBER 27, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 21

The Review
The girls are all right
By KATE DRAKE

ALSO
Guardian Angel

How Cheung-Yan Yuen got Charlie's Angels looking so good

When you've got the best, you milk it for all it's worth. So it goes with Charlie's Angels. Building on the sensation created by Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, the original Angels in Aaron Spelling's 1970s television show of the same name, the movie maintains the flavor of the series while capturing today's mindset.

Retro in design, with overt Asian influences and campy styles accenting a PlayStation-inspired cinematography, the film could well become the signature action drama of our era. As latter-day 007s, the trio of female detectives (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu) unravel the case of the mad software genius—while being bold, sexy and utterly likable. O.K., the simple plot and endless T&A shots somewhat diminish this gender-bending feat, but frankly who, male or female, doesn't want to be as sexy as these women? The fight scenes, choreographed by Cheung-Yan Yuen and enhanced by the cinematography of Russell Carpenter (Titanic, True Lies), catapult the new Angels into the realm of memorable action heroines.

The film capitalizes, too, on the West's growing infatuation with all things Asian. There is a massage parlor, modeled after a historic geisha house, a party in a 13th-century Shinto temple and a sumo fight between the characters played by Tim Curry and Bill Murray. And of course there was the inspired selection of Liu as one of the Angels. Although sushi restaurants have cropped up on every corner from Santa Monica to Savannah, the number of Asian actors and actresses permitted inside the glitzy gates of Hollywood remains pitifully small. After Liu's sexy, in-your-face performance—easily on par with Diaz and Barrymore's—it won't be a surprise if other Asian women are able to chop, sashay and wink their way to the big screen soon.

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