Seoul Raiders (2005)

Directed by
Enjoyable but disposable
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-11-10

The way things work in Hong Kong, 2 films having similar names and the same director/star are as likely to have nothing to do with each other as not, but in the case of SEOUL RAIDERS we do get a genuine sequel to Tokyo Raiders, putting Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in a new Asian capital and giving him Richie Jen to make up for Ekin's disappearance. What to expect then - a slick & stylish action comedy with a silly plot, goofy humour and some gorgeous babes kicking ass. All present and correct, but somehow SEOUL doesn't quite deliver the grins that TOKYO induced.

Perhaps it's because the babes aren't quite as cute in SEOUL - sure they're pretty, but not nearly as perky or charismatic (except the Japanese one, who wears some odd head gear throughout the film). Obviously Shu Qi beats Kelly Chen hands down though, and delivers most of the film's charisma.

Perhaps it's the action scenes, which are over-edited and feature too much wobbly-cam. TOKYO seems to have disappointed many because the action scenes were heavily stylised, and the fighters weren't real martial artists. Personally I loved them, because the inventive choreography went really well with the innovative manipulations of camera speed, creating something quite fresh and unique. SEOUL's action scenes may feature some good choreography, but you can't really tell if it's good or bad - or who's actually hitting who - most of the time. Disappointing, though there's a few good bits in there.

Perhaps it's the soundtrack - the quirky latin-influenced music from TOKYO has been replaced by a really blatant knock-off of Tomoyasu Hotei's "Battles Without Honour And Humanity" (popularised in the west by the Kill Bill soundtrack). It's not a bad piece of music, but it is so similar to BWOAH it can't be ignored, and it doesn't imbue the film with the same sense of oddball playfulness.

Or perhaps it's simply that time has moved on - 5 years ago, TOKYO RAIDERS was a fresh and somewhat innovative return to action comedy in the Jackie Chan style, which wasn't something that we'd seen for a while. These days there's a lot more of it around (still not that much from Hong Kong, but other countries are picking up the slack), and the stylish visuals and editing have been imitated and out-done in other films.

Whatever the reason, SEOUL RAIDERS doesn't seem to have found too many fans - but then there are many people that hated TOKYO RAIDERS, which I still can't understand. Perhaps SEOUL will find its fans too :)