Clash of the Tartans

Divergence cover

Tartan Video
MSRP: $22.95
RUNNING TIME: 10 Minutes

Feature Commentary w/ director
"Making-of" featurette
Photo gallery
Premiere footage

The Pitch

, in that it, too, is made up of images flickering on a

The Humans

Kwok, Ekin Cheng, Daniel Wu, Angelica Lee.

The Nutshell

On the
eve of a significant money laundering trial, the key witness is murdered on his
way to a safe house. A down-on-his-luck cop with nothing to lose, a rebellious
assassin, and a crooked lawyer compete for screen time as the plot spins
tighter and tighter around the proverbial drain.

The Lowdown

I love it
when things get tidy. When, for example, a set of seemingly unconnected
characters are revealed to have a strong connection to one another. It’s the Magnolia
principle: randomness is displeasing, but the act of going from random to
ordered makes for a happy audience. That’s part of what Divergence is predicated
on, title be damned. Three stories moving in similar but separate directions
come toward a common plot point.

its incredibly awkward plotting make it so you can practically hear Paul
Reubens singing, "Connect the dots! La la la la!" Instead of touching
and building off of the parallel momentums, each individual thread jolts
forward and backward seemingly without regard for the natural progression of
story, which doesn’t contribute much to the intended convergence scenario.

Stuck in the damn nosebleeds again…

more, those situations that do tug at the plot threads meaningfully are almost
without exception cliché. What is it that drives people to clichés, honestly? I’m
curious. Is it laziness? It certainly is far simpler to construct a story from
the various body parts left lying around from other stories than to birth one
fully-formed. (Unless you’re May.) I’m convinced that sometimes
storytellers dig into the bag of recycled elements because they have an
affection for them, out of context, and believe that the affection will
translate when the pieces are arranged in a new order.

the reason for the overuse of cliché — and, foolishly, I’m going to keep
pursuing the answer in my personal time — the practical effect is that Divergence
fails to register in the audience interest. It’s like an exercise in bad
parenting; constantly nagging a child to clean his room, but never punishing
him for not doing so, will render your orders completely meaningless to the
brat. Likewise, the plain repetition of such familiar story elements turns into
a faint drone.

did you say something?"

no. That’s just Divergence."

Remember: underwear goes beneath the slacks.

The Package

delivers a rare two-disc special edition! If you happen to be a fan of the
film, or become one after viewing the DVD, there are plenty of bonus features
to entertain you. Unfortunately, since they appeal directly to an
already-swayed audience, there isn’t much of interest for the sad few who
consider the film a tub of balls.

The first
disc contains the glorious soundtrack options; I’ve said it before, and I’ll
probably forget and say it again, but the DTS tracks that Tartan invests in for
these releases are just lovely.

contained on this first disc is a commentary by director Benny Chan. Chan displays
a reasonably deep knowledge of action film tropes, which makes him seem a
amiable guy, but at the same time highlights all the derivations he included in
his film.

The second
disc contains the stuff that couldn’t fit with all the audio on the first, including
a making-of doc, a gallery of original trailers, a selection of production
stills, a little featurette on the film’s gala premiere, and a bunch of
trailers for upcoming Tartan Asia Extreme releases.

It’s also worth mentioning that the English subtitles for the film are absolutely riddled with typos and oddly-translated non-sequiters. As a disclaimer, I suppose, I should say that this translation may have significantly colored my experience of the film.

2 out of 10