It’s been said and done. I’ve said this before, too. I am convinced I will never watch a truly unique series or film again in my life unless I finally decide to finish the original “Twilight Zone.” Originality is dead. So is “White Dragon,” Amazon Prime Video’s new neo-noir-wannabe original series that attempts to rip off of Netflix’s “Collateral.” Or is it the other way around?
Professor Jonah Mulray (John Simm) lives a perfectly normal life in the UK with his wife Megan Harris (Dervla Kirwan). Megan is killed in a car crash in Hong Kong, where she spends half her time due to her job. Jonah travels to Hong Kong only to discover Megan has a husband, former police detective David Chen (Anthony Chau-Sang Wong), and a college-aged daughter, Lau Chen (Katie Leung).
Things get complicated when the police seem to be doing absolutely nothing to find out what happened to Megan, even when Jonah brings them a voice message Megan left for him before she dies where she can be heard breathing after the accident until a fatal shot killed her. Local and international politics and investigative journalism soon become a pivotal point to the story.
I like John Simm. I think he’s a very talented actor. He has killer comedic skills, as seen in ABC’s “The Catch.” In “White Dragon,” his character commands the attention of the viewer and carries much of the series. I also think he needs to stop signing on to these projects with stellar imagery and underwhelming plots that fail to hook the audience over several episodes. If you’re wondering, Simm also starred in “Collateral.”
If Simm’s goal is to be the only remarkable feature of unremarkable feature films and shows, then he’s doing a great job. I am also bothered by the believability of someone being married to a spouse with a job that keeps them traveling to the same country rapidly and repeatedly but never actually accompanying them to said country because they’re afraid to fly. It’s Hong Kong. Who doesn’t want to see Hong Kong?
The mystery’s failure to entice the audience is partly due to the characters as well as the flaws with the storyline. The conspiracy-centered plot involving a central character facing a corrupt government and bringing down the system is overdone and unrealistic. In real life, the first thing the “bad guys” would have done is tie up loose ends and kill Megan’s entire family. Maybe that’s just me because I’m thorough and that’s why these loose ends that move the plot forward like keeping Jonah alive bother me so much.
Wong is cold and unfeeling, and while that may be part of his character, it doesn’t excuse his performance. As for Leung, I didn’t like her when she played Cho Chang in “Harry Potter” and I like her even less now. Her performances have always come across as flat. The scene where Lau listens to her mother’s voicemail was the opposite of emotional, and this is coming from someone who cries at any movie trailer that involves a dog.
Give it a shot if you want. At least the images of beautiful Hong Kong are stunning.