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Downtown Torpedoes (1997)

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-Jordan Chan
-Takeshi Kaneshiro
-Charlie Yeung


Cash and Jackal are members of an elite, independent spy group. When a government agency finds out about a plot to flood the markets with counterfeit bills, they enlist Cash and Jackal by blackmail. Along with a couple some of their collegues in the business, they must track down and steal the plates used for the counterfeiting


It seems that big conspiracies have been the popular theme in big-budget action movies in the Hong Kong in recent years. Downtown Torpedoes is no exception. It is far from pretentious, plainly offering pretty faces, big-budget action, and your obligatory consipiracy plot. It's not in a position to turn the genre on its head, thanks to a number of flaws, but might provide a solid single-viewing "popcorn" movie, as long as you aren't looking for anything profound.

Once again, we see the big international conspiracy plot brought in for Downtown Torpedoes. Downtown Torpedoes actually hits a lot of the cliches we hold for such movies, from the traditional conspiracy plot twists all the way down to the traditional international conspiracy, James Bond-ish music style. Unfortunately, if you are looking for the plot to be mind-blowing, you will be disappointed. This isn't a mindbender or a thinking man's movie. There are a few holes here and there, and the characters are fairly one-dimensional. The film, though, is not pretentious and does not really try to be anything more than what it is. It's definitely light-wieght summer action movie fare.

The action itself is fairly solid. I actually would liked to have seen more of it. In particular, the first major action sequence has some very nice hand to hand combat, above the level of which I expected for this movie. Chan and Kaneshiro bust in with their half-masks (a nice touch - if a little much) and take down the guards in style. The shootouts in the film aren't quite as impressive as the little hand-to-hand bits, but still fairly solid. No John Woo fare, but just as good as one might expect from a big budget action film. We even have our explosions that no movie of this type would be complete without. Yes, they are gratuitous - but that's because we want them. I'm also fairly satisfied at how well the action was captured. There wasn't too much MTV-style editing in the fights to where it got distracting and took away from the actual moves. Everything is captured stylishly without overdoing it.

Downtown Torpedoes should be taken as nothing more than a popcorn flick. It's story is fairly cliched, the characters are pretty one-dimensional, and it has got the obligatory big-budget action. If you are looking for a classic, stay away. If you are looking to kill a Saturday night and don't mind leaving your brain behind for a bit, you'll enjoy this as a solid action movie.


-Teddy Chan


-Original Cantonese language.