Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tokyo Raiders / Dong jing gong lüe (Hong Kong/Japan, 2000)

(Trailer) This car accident is called Tokyo Raiders primarily because most of the "action" takes place in Tokyo. In truth, an apt title would be Tokyo Boredom, for though nothing gets raided in this film, much of it does bore. It's truly bad news when the most exciting thing a movie has going for it is its soundtrack, which in this case is heavy on the salsa instead of the synth.
It takes about ten minutes before any sort of plot kicks in, but even the unexpected introduction of a minimal story-line doesn't make the flick any better. Director Jingle Ma has obviously spent much too much time watching MTV and has shot the movie in the style of one extended and disjointed movie video. The result may be visually kinetic, but does little to improve the movie. At best, he comes across like Oliver Stone on acid, which is lot worse than it sounds. Jingle Ma has been the cinematographer for many a Jackie Chan film and he shoots most action scenes in a humorous vein somewhat similar to that found in a Chan movie, but somewhere along the way the humor, like any and all excitement, gets lost. (It is seemingly replaced by some of the most blatant and annoyingly unfunny sexism to be found in a movie ever.)
An irritating mixture of James Bond, Inspector Gadget, Mission: Impossible and What's My Line, all the movie's flash can't hide the fact that there was no real script. The movie does feature some nice girlies, a halfway decent boat chase, an entertaining skateboard & bike chase and a great tour of excellent contemporary Japanese architecture, but all that doesn't help jack-shit. Actually, most of the girlies look so young that had there been any nudes scenes — there aren't, of course — Tokyo Raiders might have qualified as kiddy porn.
After the opening and pointless fight scenes, the movie tells the story of Macy (Kelly Chen), who gets stood-up at the altar in Vegas by her businessman lover-boy named Ken and heads home for Hong Kong, where she is confronted by an interior decorator named John (Ekin Cheng) waving a rubber check written by her fiancée/boyfriend. Searching for Ken, she heads off for Tokyo, John tagging along behind her. In no time at all John is saving her life from endless streams of bad guys, kicking their butts all along the way. They end up joining forces with private investigator Lin (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and his team of nubiles who are also searching for Ken. No one is who they seem and everyone, including a ton of Tokyo gangsters and the CIA, is out for something. Who will find Ken first? And who cares?
Nice architecture in Tokyo, though.
(My opinion about the flick aside, it was a huge hit in Asia and was even followed by a sequel in 2005.)

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