Year: 2017
Director(s): Chang
Writer(s): Cha Muchun
Region of Origin: China

Rating: n/a
Color, 105 mins

Synopsis: When her son is kidnapped, the inventor of a time machine resets time in a desperate bid to save his life. (Source)

What if I told you that China came up with its answer to Taken and it’s a sci-fi head-trip involving parallel universes, frenetic action, corporate espionage, time travel and a pinch of existential crisis? Well, it’s true, and all of these things can be found in Chang’s beautifully absurd Reset. Taking a plot that literally races against the clock, Chang’s film is all-out crazy, a non-pretentious blockbuster that you can’t help but admire thanks to its reckless abandon and inability to stay still for too long. Stars Yang Mi and Wallace Huo are having fun in their respective roles, which, as you can imagine, allow them to transform with the film’s numerous twists and turns. Broad but undoubtedly ambitious, this is a fun, fast film with a sense of freewheeling lunacy, making it a wild ride we can’t resist.

Sometime in the future, the existence of parallel universes has been confirmed. Now, rival corporations and a scientist named Xia Tian (Yang Mi) are focusing their efforts on sending living tissue back in time via reality-warping wormholes. On the cusp of a breakthrough, her son Doudou (Yihan Zhang) is kidnapped by Tsui Hu (Wallace Huo), working for a rival competitor intent on stealing her data. With her son held at ransom, Xia Tian agrees to exchange her data for her son, but the drop goes fatally wrong. Reeling, and left with no other options, Xia Tian sends herself back in time hoping to change Doudou’s fate, but is unprepared for the consequences of such a risky and desperate act. Xia Tian sets off a chain reaction of cascading events and realities, attempting to stay one step ahead of tragedy by gambling with not only with her fate, but of those around her.

The main draw of Chang’s film, is just how far it’s willing to go, constantly one upping itself with each scene. Chang never misses a chance to go bigger or crazier, eventually throwing doppelgangers into the loop and even remixing events we’ve just seen to push the plot in new directions. Car chases, gunplay, close calls and of course, mandatory to any time travel film, an exploration of self are just a small part of the propulsive story, one that impressively never looks back despite its trips into the past. Amidst all the chaos, Chang still manages to touch upon the story’s ideas of identity and choice. Are we all really just pawns amidst a cosmic game we can’t control? How different of a person would we be if we made a different choice minutes ago? Though the film’s hustle doesn’t allow Chang to explore these questions as deep as he could, there’s still a lot to think about – each action scene gives way to drastic consequences and moral quandaries with satisfying emotional hooks.

Performances are fine across the board, but this is Yang Mi’s film, who gets to flesh out Xia Tian in numerous ways. As Xia Tian, Yang Mi constantly transforms with her surroundings, at first a smart scientist devoted to her work and son, who instantly has to adapt to combat a threat on everything she holds dear. Without spoiling things too much, Yang’s character enjoys a few different iterations along the way, with Yang delineating them in subtle but noticeable ways, tying the film’s myriad of tones, ideas and emotions together into as much of a cohesive whole as it could. Opposite, Wallace Huo is what he needs to be (his character isn’t the focus despite his threat), while Liu Chang and King Shih-Chieh round out Xia Tian’s crew in memorable ways.

Reset is constantly surprising, keeping a playful tone even alongside some big set pieces and twisty narrative trickery. Chang and crew have created something that flies by, and its brisk pace and energy are infectious. Fans of trippy action fare will find a lot to like here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the American market snatched up the remake rights immediately. For now, however, this is a trip down the wormhole worth taking.

SG