More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
2

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad100%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 0 user ratings


Latest Reviews

Unity of Heroes by Jay Seaver

Hanagatami by Jay Seaver

Predator, The by Jay Seaver

Fahrenheit 11/9 by Rob Gonsalves

Madeline's Madeline by Jay Seaver

Won't You Be My Neighbor? by Rob Gonsalves

Brothers' Nest by Jay Seaver

Mandy by Peter Sobczynski

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum by Jay Seaver

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Europe Raiders
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Hong Kong heroics on the road isn't what it once was."
2 stars

Released 18 years ago, "Tokyo Raiders" wasn't a great movie, which goes double for 2005 sequel "Seoul Raiders", but they're fair examples of early-aughts Hong Kong movies - relatively-low budget, scripts that aren't great, a bit of brain-drain going on as some of the big names were heading to Hollywood or China, but nevertheless kind of fun because you could still put together a heck of a cast and nobody in the world did action better. "Europe Raiders", meanwhile, is a fair look at what movies have in many cases become almost two decades later - some of the same people are involved, but the result feels more processed, with less to be impressed by.

It opens in 2006, on Christmas Eve, when private eye/bounty hunter/CIA agent Lin Zaifeng (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) and his team - Steelskin (Lo Mang), Sureblade (Lau Ka Yung), and Megafoot (Yuen Qiu), rather than the adoring young women of the previous films - rescue both master hacker Mercury (George Lam Chi-Cheung) and his two children, though he suspects Mercury wouldn't be caught unless he wanted to be. A decade later those children have grown up, and Sophie (Du Juan) has just stolen the "Hand of God" surveillance system Mercury built for the CIA, and is demanding the release of her brother Rocky (Kris Wu Yifan) from a secret prison. To catch Sophie, the CIA recruits Wang Chaoying (Tiffany Tang Yan), who is not only a top security professional in her own right, but the only one who can contact her ex-boyfriend Lin.

It's kind of odd that the third entry in this series is the first in which Tony Leung Chiu-wai's Lin is firmly placed at the center of the story despite Leung being first-billed in all three, and it still doesn't really allow him to make a strong impression or even feel that important: Though Lin talks about Hand of God being something Mercury regrets like they were close friends, there's nothing in the movie to support that, and his relationship with Wang is very much carried by Tiffany Tang's side of the story. It's bizarre what a relative void Leung is in these movies, considering what great work he's turned in elsewhere. He's far from a negative - he brings a light, playful charm to the part, can still hold his own in a martial-arts scene, and has good chemistry with Tang - but there are a couple times when it looks like the plan here is to relaunch the series with Tang as the star, and it's not just her snappy outfits (compared to Lin's gray suits) that make that an appealing idea. Tang gets to play the prickly, sarcastic agent with something to prove and has a blast selling it, to the point where she probably should have been the star of this movie in a more indisputable manner.

There's a pretty decent cast around them, too - Du Juan is well-placed as an angry ice queen, for instance, and Kris Wu Yifan hits a lot of spots that are likely trickier than they first appear as Rocky, playing him as sort of coolly detached but also showing signs of a beating heart underneath, with the added degree of difficulty that a surprising number of his lines are in Klingon (which, yes, does seem doubly weird considering that Paramount had to hire "brand ambassadors" to introduce China to Star Trek, but I suspect that much like the Star Wars collectors in Aberdeen, this affinity for Western pop culture is part of what marks it as a Hong Kong film even though it often feels like a Mainland production). Lau Ka Yung, Lo Mang, and Yuen Qiu are a fun sidekick trio, and Jakob Philipp Graf is decent as the CIA officer assigned to the case, considering that the actor playing his boss occasionally seems to be speaking English for the first time.

It's often a very nice-looking film, too - director Jingle Ma Choh-shing still serves as his own cinematographer, and while the digitally-captured Europe Raiders has a different feel than the previous films, it lets him grab the occasional striking image like the snowboarding figure covered in Christmas lights that opens the movie, and he never backs off from something eccentric or goes overboard in justifying it. The story is fairly uncomplicated for most of the movie, with much earlier revelations of secret identities than in Tokyo and Seoul, and the early action is decent as well (Ma always shoots a good car chase, in particular).

The rest of the movie being not great but capable makes one hope for a classic insane Hong Kong-style finale, but what the audience gets is actually a huge disappointment - Ma and the producers create a big pulp-adventure set filled with people in spiffy costumes for the final fight, but the cinematography and editing are so tight and rapid that you almost never see blows launch and land in the same shot. Why bring in Cung Le and Jeeja Yanin (and have the rest of the cast immediately make sure the audience understands they are big deals) if you're never going to stand back and really let them cut loose? There's also some less-than-great effects at a couple points, including one bit of green-screen work that had me wondering if Kris Wu and Du Juan were ever actually on set together. It's a visual mess, and worse, it pulls all of its emotional punches, with no space to react when an important character goes down for the count and an inevitable gap-filling epilogue to come.

It's made even worse by the way that other movies in the series pulled their way out of mediocrity - or at least sent the audience home smiling - with big finishes, while this just goes to show that what one made Hong Kong the scrappy, action-adventure capital of the world now seems to be in fairly short supply. The best thing I can say about it is that it inspired me to track down "Tokyo Raiders", which may not be great but gets more excitement out of fewer resources than this movie does.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=32560&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/20/18 23:44:56
[printer] printer-friendly format  

IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  17-Aug-2018

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Aug-2018 (M)


Directed by
  Jingle Ma

Written by
  Peng Xiao

Cast
  Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
  Kris Wu
  Tiffany Tang
  Juan Du



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast