Tokyo Raiders (2000)

Directed by
The future of action films?
Reviewed by Simon on 2001-06-02

I had such a lot of fun watching this movie. I always describe it as the Hong Kong Charlie's Angels (though in reality it was the other way round). It just absolutely refuses to take itself seriously for most of the running time, and it seems as if cast and crew really enjoyed themselves making it. This enthusiasm is infectious. It's particularly refreshing to see Ekin Cheng leaving his "cool" image behind and take a much more playful role. He's actually quite charming here.

The action scenes were also very refreshing, choreographed by Jackie Chan's Stunt Team member Alien Sit (fantastic name), and very much in a Jackie Chan interact-with-the-environment style. Whilst it's obvious that Ekin & Tony Leung Chiu-Wai aren't real fighters, the choreography doesn't really require them to be, and Jingle Ma brings out the best of the scenes with some innovative editing and filming. Time becomes very malleable, with freeze frames, fast forwards and slo-mos running into each other in a single shot, creating a very interesting effect. The same sort of thing was done less effectively in Charlie's Angels.

The plot is also quite playful, taking in many twists and turns that unfold quite cleverly. I'm surprised by criticisms that there is no plot... there most certainly is! It's not big or profound, but it's there and it's fun.

Special mention must go to the young Japanese starlets that seem to have even more fun in the film than anybody else as Tony's doting assistants. Very cute and charming, and their interplay with each other and Leung Chiu-Wai is amusing.

TOKYO RAIDERS is a truly 21st century film - this is the future, like it or not. In a year where Hollywood has been trying to do Hong Kong and HK has been trying to do Hollywood, it is Hong Kong that comes away with the most credibility. If this is the direction that Hong Kong's big budget action films are going to take, then I'm quite happy. It's not the same as the older action movies, where you got real physically gifted performers doing their stuff, but since those performers aren't around anymore I think it's a good substitute.

The only let-down with the film is the ending. Showdowns at the marina should be left to Pamela Anderson's VIP. It's the only place where I felt that Jingle was trying to add "hollywood style" to the film, and he shouldn't have bothered... it was working much better without it. Hollywood style isn't what Hong Kong does well, and nor would I want it to... there's a good reason I don't watch Hollywood movies after all!