My Girl Crush on Gong Li & Why Miami Vice Is The Crime Film of the Future
by Madeline Iva
I was thinking the other day, i.e. doing the dishes, and watching MIAMI VICE (the movie, not TV show) staring Gong-Li, Colin Farrell, and Jamie Foxx. [SPOILERS abound below—you’ve been warned.]
FIRST LET US DISCUSS THE OUTRAGEOUS HOTNESS FACTOR OF THIS MOVIE: I mean really. Jamie Foxx. Damn. Colin Farrell–mullet, mustache and all, with those big brown eyes—damn. And Gong-Li. I’m a little gay for Gong-Li. If I had to sleep with one of them, I think Gong-Li would be my first pick, but I wouldn’t say no to a foursome.
The love story in the center of MIAMI VICE is like the rich gooey filling at the center of a chocolate bon-bon. So good, and then it’s gone. Whenever I finish watching the movie on DVD, I walk around afterwards a little dazed, still living in the movie, still clinging to that mood of desperate longing.
The film has many wonderful aspects, yet MOSTLY I’M OBSESSED OVER GONG LI’S CHARACTER. Which is not to say it’s a perfect movie. Do I believe she’s Cuban-Chinese? Nah. Do I care? Not really, because while her accent isn’t so great, she is helping to eradicate the role of “the girl” in crime film movies. Her role transcends decades of stereotypes.
SHE’S PART OF THE GANG – NOT JUST A TOY So many of the small female roles in crime films are accessories—these women characters are there to lounge about on couches looking bored, sexy and rich. I cannot stand these women roles. They are trophies, an equivalent to a car or designer piece of furniture and with about as much personality.
No, in this film, Gong Li is the number two in command. When the undercover cops meet face to face with the representative of the cartel, Jose Yero, and his instincts start to pick up on Colin Farrell—that something’s not quite right about him—It’s Gong Li’s character, lurking in the shadows who tells Jose to the cut the shit, stop wasting their time. She’s an integral part of the plot—the cartel’s white collar money manager, and she helps call the shots in collaboration with the king pin.
HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BAD GUY: It’s got some murky corners, admittedly. Michael Mann doesn’t take the time to spell things out from A-Z. She’s with the bad guy, yes as his business partner/employee, but not just that. They’re involved.
However, she points out to Colin Farrell that they’re not married. She says doesn’t need a husband to support herself or to own a house. And we’re left to fill in the blanks however we want. Open relationship? It’s okay if it’s just physical? Later, she strait up tells king pin that she’s slept with Colin Farrell. Not to hurt the bad guy—she tells him to clarify her actions, and to avoid secrets as they discuss their path forward in doing business with the team. Yet neither does she explain her reasons why to him. He’s free to interpret it however he wants.
Me? I’m just thrilled to death that our bad-girl-good-girl is not drawn along that false dichotomy of worthy monogamous partner/slut. And her actions are pivotal to the plot. Towards the end, it’s her emotional betrayal that determines everyone’s fate.
WILD CARD! Jamie Foxx’s character Ricardo Tubbs, warns Colin Farrell’s character, Crockett at one point that “she’s may be many things…but in the end, she’s with them.”
And she is with them – until she and Colin have such hot chemistry that she’s with him too.
They meet in a business setting. They trade just one long look that no one sees the second time they meet, and when the time comes he goes for it. He offers to talk to her about business, one on one. Instead of answering, she says she wants a ride on his boat. Then she asks him what he likes to drink. He’s a fiend for mojitos so off they to Havana Cuba (her home ground, not his) where they dance and dive deeply into one another until Sonny is not sure which way is up.
But in their short time together, whether it’s business or personal–and they go back and forth between the two with extreme fluidity—they are peers. They are collaborative. It’s written into the script with a bit of clunky-ness, but they play it out better that it’s written—and I LOVE IT! Their doomed relationship—the hotness—the there’s-no-way-this-can-end-well desperation: I just wiffle that sh** up.
I am also left with another kind of longing. I want to write stuff as diverse as this movie. I want to show a couple (though perhaps a pair that’s a little less doomed) who lose nothing of their smexy twisty factor from the characters being on an even plane. Sigh.
OTHER REASONS WHY I LOVE THIS FILM: the characters—the multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, hot, and mostly very rational characters are what I totally fall for. Yes, visuals are lush and grand—Miami at it’s stormy, dramatic best. The soundtrack is full of moody feels that adds to it all. But it’s the characters—always the characters that I come back to.
CRIME FILMS OF THE FUTURE: Michael Mann provided a diverse cast in a setting that calls out for diversity: Miami. He made a crime film that’s a convincing mixed stew of race and gender. In painting his cast with a melting pot brush, he doled out a heaping portion of the power, the action, the leadership, and the romance to the POC’s and the women.
The result is that all of the characters have agency—not just the leads, not just the white people, not just the men.
Jamie Foxx may be a supporting role, (i.e. he gets a bit less screen time than Colin Farrell), but he’s not a side kick. He has a relationship as well—and if you think they’re all set from the beginning, you’d be wrong. His girlfriend plays a major role in the plot—and yes, her life is at stake at one point, but she is not in any way a victim. She’s part of the team, she has a job, and she is the one who determines the way forward in the face of threats they face.
THEN THERE’S THAT ONE SCENE — MY FAVORITE SCENE: It coulda been a guy doing the scene. It could have been Ricardo or Crockett rolling under the building, drilling a hole, inserting a camera, and going into the bad guy’s lair first. Instead Michael Mann gave this role to a woman on their team. The next moment is a tense stand off as Gina goes up against a guy with a bomb trigger ready to blow them all up. It’s such a bad-ass scene. It’s definitely on the level of the best Dirty Harry moment—but it’s underplayed, explosive and elegant all at once. In other words–it’s the BEST EVER!!!! My favorite moment in the movie, truly.
THE BAD GUYS HAVE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY:
The bad guys are Hispanic, Chinese, and White supremacists. They work together as bad guys do when they’re focused on making mega amounts of cash. And while the white bad guys are completely repugnant, the POC bad guys are almost as hot and interestingly complex as the main characters are.
EVERY SINGLE MINOR ACTOR WAS SO CRAZY GOOD:
I feel like I could hold an Oscars award just for the category of best supporting actor in this one film. There are so many contenders: Gina, the team member whom I described above. The police commander, Martin Castillo, who gets some great lines. (My sweetie and I will occasionally quote his lines to each other from time to time.) There is no one in the entire cast who is not brilliant.
However, the standout performance for me is John Ortiz who plays Jose Yero. This guy is a tremendous character actor with an enormous range. He is sadly unsung in Hollywood. You’ve probably seen him in the Silver Lining Playbook, and if you have, you’d have a hard time recognizing him in this movie. He takes a repugnant role and makes it so compelling, interesting, and charismatic. He brought a depth of emotion to a psychopathic pig. And!!! He did it with no words, just looks–just in the way he interacts with people.
So check out MIAMI VICE if you haven’t already. It’s a movie you can revel in over and over again.
Meanwhile, if you want some desperate hotness in your life, follow us at Lady Smut.
Madeline Iva writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance. Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be available for pre-order Oct 1st and out November 1st, 2016.