Magic to Win (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/12/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Magic to Win has a promising start and a couple of nice ideas, but it quickly wears out its welcome thanks to dodgy special effects and a plot that basically amounts to a bunch of wizards throwing inconsequential CGI light bolts at each other.

What's it all about?
Directed by Wilson Yip, Magic to Win is based on the Chinese Happy Ghost movie series and stars Karena Ng as volleyball player Macy Cheng, who accidentally acquires magical powers when she collides with Professor Kang (Raymond Wong). After initially using her newfound powers to, um, win volleyball matches (hang on ... isn't that cheating?), Macy draws the attention of another wizard (Chun Wu as Ling Feng) and together they team up with a now powerless Professor Kang to take on yet another wizard (Wu Jing) who is trying to steal various wizarding powers in order to use them to travel back in time.

The Good
The film starts promisingly, quickly laying out the idea that some people (those who use 100% of their brains) have magic powers and introducing us to all the main characters. Ng makes an appealing lead as Cheng and there's strong support from both Wong and Yan Ni (as Cheng's volleyball coach), though the other wizards (another one narrates the film and is trapped in a mirror early on) are frustratingly underwritten.

The Bad
The main problem is that, much like the recent I Am Number Four or The Last Airbender, the plot basically boils down to a bunch of wizards endlessly throwing computer-generated light bolts at each other with seemingly no consequence. On top of that, the film is outrageously derivative, at one point nicking scenes from Superman (but badly animated, coloured red instead of blue and with the music off by a couple of notes to avoid being sued) and also having an actual lightsabre fight for no discernible reason (this makes it sound like much more fun than it is).

Similarly, although the script attempts some ambitious genre-blending (superheroes, high school comedy, teen romance, fantasy adventure, sports drama), it fails to bring any of those elements together in satisfying fashion and eventually wears out its welcome. It also doesn't help that the CGI effects are extremely dodgy, especially compared to their Hollywood equivalents.

Worth seeing?
Despite a promising set-up, Magic to Win never really comes together, thanks to a disappointing script, dodgy CGI effects, poorly directed action scenes and underwritten characters.

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Content updated: 22/10/2017 22:12

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