Director: Jingle Ma
Stars: Ekin Cheng, Kelly Chan, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
I think I've been pretty forgiving when it comes to the new wave of big-budget HK action flicks. Many people have said that films like Hot War or Gen-X Cops are killing the HK movie industry. I feel that while they're not, of course, up to the level of the classic action films produced during the genre's heyday, most provide some decent eye candy and escapist entertainment. Tokyo Raiders has changed my mind about that. If this is the direction that HK action films are going to be going in during the new millennium, then get me off this bus right now.
The "plot" has something to do with Kelly Chan being wanted by the FBI, CIA, Japanese secret service, the Yakuza and (of course) some interested parties in Hong Kong since she was engaged to a Yakuza who was planning to smuggle in counterfeit Yen. Ekin Cheng plays some sort of interior designer who also happens to be a kung-fu expert (wah?!), who tags along with Chan on her way to Japan, where they meet up with private eye Tony Leung. I don't want to ruin anything for you, but it turns out that everyone isn't what they claim to be (what, you mean your average interior designer can't do kung-fu?). In fact, there are so many convoluted twists and turns that by the end of the film, I didn't care who was what or where they were or what they were doing.
The fact that most of the actors stink didn't help matters out at all. Here's a word to Hong Kong filmmakers who want to get more of an international audience -- don't put Ekin Cheng in any more movies! I swear to God, there should be a Surgeon General's warning on any movie featuring Ekin saying that it'll induce nausea. Both Ekin and fellow non-actor Kelly Chan should just go back to making crappy Cantopop records instead of stinking up any film that they're in with their dismal performances. On a lighter note, Tony Leung -- who must be really hard up for the money -- does give a decent performance. It was pretty sad seeing him slumming in a film like this, but it also highlighted the fact that good looks and talent are things that are often not apart in actors. There are plenty of talented young actors who could have easily filled Ekin and Kelly's shoes. Maybe they had the good sense to pass on the movie once they saw the script.
And don't think the action scenes save Tokyo Raiders at all. If you think Ekin Cheng can look convincing as a kung-fu expert, then more power to you -- and I've got some nice swampland in Florida I'd like to sell you. The scenes are shot and edited in such a choppy way that it makes The Replacement Killers look like The Killer by comparison. Overuse of slow motion and other camera tricks don't make your action scenes cooler, they only tend to give the viewer headaches, especially when they're accompanied by a score that sounds more appropriate for a cheesy porno film or MTV promo than an action film.
If you couldn't guess, Tokyo Raiders not only ranks as the worst of the latest wave of HK action movies, it's one of the worst movies I've ever seen, period.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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