AKA: Heroic Trio 2
Director: Johnnie To
Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Anita Mui, Anthony Wong, Lau Ching-Wan
Taking place some years after the original Heroic Trio where nuclear war has rendered Hong Kong's water undrinkable save for a small source kept by the evil Mr. Kim (Wong), Executioners once again reunites the trio of Wonder Woman (Mui), Thief Catcher (Cheung) and Invisible Woman (Yeoh) as they team up to find a source of clean water.
Even though Heroic Trio and Executioners were both shot at the same time, they have a radically different feel to them. While Heroic Trio was a fast, breezy and ultimately very enjoyable action/martial arts movie, Executioners is a dark, depressing film that has little going for it. One of the main problems is that there is no chemistry between the characters. The trio spend most of the film apart (save for the beginning and the end); instead the three spend their time in separate sequences. Thief Catcher teams with an Indiana Jones-esque Lau Ching-Wan to find the water, Wonder Woman is thrown into a prison/sanitorium, and Invisible Woman (who, strangely, isn't invisible but still uses the name) virtually (pardon the pun) disappears for most of the film as she goes off to look for a wanted criminal.
Losing the interaction between the leads lost a lot of the interest for me. The actors are good enough on their own, but worked so well together in Heroic Trio I was more than a bit disappointed. Anthony Wong makes an okay villain, but since he was in Heroic Trio as a totally different character, in Executioners he has to go through the whole movie wearing a silly mask, which seems to inhibit his performance.
All this might have been forgivable if the fights were good, but frankly, they're not. First off, there's not nearly enough of it. The movie is only about 90 minutes long, but seems a whole lot longer because there's just so much damn talking -- at times the film seems like it's trying to be a serious social drama or romance. Genre mixing is to be expected in HK films, but usually it's pulled off better than this. There were many times when I contemplated hitting the fast-forward button, something which has never crossed my mind while watching a Michelle Yeoh movie before. Getting back to the fighting, the scenes that are in there just seem uninspired. Maybe the long process of shooting two films got to the actors -- I don't know. They just look very tired and it shows in the fighting sequences.
Judging from other reviews, some people really enjoyed Executioners. But I didn't. It's not the worst movie I've seen (it's probably good just to watch it just for the eye candy of the three leads than anything else), but compared to the fantastic Heroic Trio, Executioners simply pales by comparison. It's probably worth at least a rental, but don't expect too much.
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