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'Brush With Danger' mixes art and martial arts

 'Brush With Danger' mixes art and martial arts
A scene from "Brush With Danger."

Though not entirely an original concept, this vibrantly shot, East-meets-West fusion of Wushu and Washington never feels like a cheap forgery

The seemingly divergent worlds of art and martial arts intersect colorfully in "Brush With Danger," a thriller co-written and co-directed by its likable young leads, siblings Livi and Ken Zheng.

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As brother-and-sister undocumented immigrants who sneak into Seattle via shipping container, kickboxer Ken and aspiring artist Alice are convinced they're living the dream when her work attracts the eye of a smarmy gallery owner (Norman Newkirk).

Naturally, it turns out their unbelievably generous patron is less interested in Alice's originals than he is in her talent for copying masterworks — particularly a long-lost Van Gogh. Despite her initial reluctance, the con is on.

The storytelling has all the dramatic complexity of a paint-by-numbers set, and you know exactly where all this is headed from the get-go. But unlike any number of bleak cautionary tales dealing with those who come to America in the quest for a better life, the Zhengs' take on the subject remains undauntedly upbeat.

It will never be mistaken for a true original, but thanks to the siblings' youthful, idealistic approach, neither does this vibrantly shot, East-meets-West fusion of Wushu and Washington ever feel like a cheap forgery.

"Brush With Danger."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.

Playing: Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.

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