Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Tokyo Raiders (2000)

[Home]
[What's New]
[Movie Reviews]
[Features]
[Links]
[About]

Starring:

-Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
-Ekin Cheng
-Kelly Chen

Synopsis:

Macy (Kelly Chen) is left waiting at the alter for her fiancee (Toru Nakamura), who never shows. Upset, she returns to Hong Kong where she meets their interior decorator (Ekin Cheng). He is in search of her fiancee, too, as he owes him money for a decorating job. When the two go to find him, he is missing. They meet up with hot shot private investigator Lin (Tony Leung), who turns out to be yet another party in search of the missing fiancee. It turns out that everyone and their brother is after this guy and Kelly Chen's character becomes the center of the search. So, they must try find him as well as find out why everyone is after him.

Review:

Despised by many HK purists, I make no exuses for my love of Tokyo Raiders. I consider it not a "guilty-pleasure" either, because I see no reason that I shouldn't be liking it. It's just plain, light-hearted fun, and should not be taken as anything more profound than that. So, it is with those thoughts in mind that I proceed to explain why the stylish and light-hearted Tokyo Raiders is a fun ride.

Tokyo Raiders takes the conspiracy/spy movie, adds huge doses of cinematographical style and gives it all a light-hearted feel. It comes with all the twists and turns you'd expect in such a movie, yet it doesn't take itself too seriously. For the first half of the film, the viewer is kept in the dark about many things. Then, in the second half, twist upon twist is revealed that changes the dynamic of the film. It is actually somewhat interesting to see how the revelations change the viewer's impression of the character's and what has been going on until that point in the film, but again, it's all quite light-hearted and doesn't try to be terribly profound in doing so. Just as you can get a backstabbing turn of events, you'll also get your fair share of Inspector Gadget inspired goofiness or funny bickering between characters.

It is very well paced and planned out, though. The film begins with some unexplained, but energy building fights that get the viewer prepared for the film's style then introduces us to our three main characters in a logical, plot-building fashion. From there, the plot flows smoothly throughout the film never really slowing down or throwing extraneous scenes at the viewer. The only complaint that might be leveled at the plot is how convoluted it gets or how contrived it may seem with so many different twists to the characters. The "contrived" complaint is something that you just get past real easily because (as I keep saying), it is not a heavy handed film, and it pushes the plot along.

Character's are not very deeply developed. Rather, they are quickly and clearly established with their unique personalities that do stay consistent throughout. It seems that development of characters has been replaced by the changing image of the characters with revelations that come in the film, which is particularly fitting for a light film such as this.

Ekin Cheng and Kelly Chen put in adequate performances. They will not be winning any Oscars any time soon, but get the job done while adding "pretty" faces to the mix. Tony Leung, as always, is awesome and a complete bad-ass. It would've been nice to see more screen time for the truly cool Toru Nakamura and Cecilia Cheung (come on, she's on the cover - but in the film for like 5 minutes). Not a complaint against the film, I just want to see more of these two after their great performances in Gen-X Cops and King of Comedy, respectively. Cecilia's cameo, though, did seem quite forced and unnecessary.

The real shining star of the film, though, is the style. Jingle Ma uses a lot of camera styles to give the film a modern to futuristic, energetic, and slick style. There is use of slow-motion and speed up, sometimes even complete stops. Some quick clips are given double-takes. Objects are focused, blurred, then re-focussed. There is also a lot of use of "handheld" looking shots where the camera moves and wavers a lot. Combined with some cool angled shots and great cityscape images - these give this film a style that sets it apart from the rest of HK cinema. If nothing else, the movie should be seen for its stylistic cinematography.

The action in the film may be dissappointing to some in some ways, but it is very cool in others.Some will be disappointed that it uses a lot of close up and quickly cut shots, making the action less clear. The has always been a complaint with American films and generally why we like HK action better - which makes it strange to be leveraging such a complaint on an HK film. We tend to like the wide, clear shots that let us see every move in perfect clarity. On the other hand, the action shots are in line with the style of the film, using the same camera tricks - which actually add much excitement to the fights. The fights actually have lots of energy to them and will get you pumped up. The music doesn't hurt, either. The techno/latin-flavored quick paced soundtrack adds such great atmosphere to the fights and gets you pumped up twice as much. So, its a trade-off between style and technical aspects of fighting. If you are looking for some good technical fights, look up Drunken Master II and Fist of Legend. If you don't mind some more stylish, but less technically impressive fighting, but lots of energy - you will enjoy the action here. One major disappointment, though, is the final action scene. It is not a fight scene, nor is it as impressive of a final struggle as we might hope. It is adequate but less exciting than the earlier fight scenes.

Tokyo Raiders is actually a very entertaining film. At the very least, the film deserves at least one viewing for its amazing stylishness. Many HK purists revile this film greatly, but I'm going to go against the grain here and say that it is a great addition to HK cinema. There is only so far that our standard HK genres can go. We've seen lots of heroic bloodshed shootouts, period piece martial arts showcases, and standard modern action pieces. A large dash of style stands out. The film is just plain fun, and that is why I love it more every time I watch it. Give Tokyo Raiders a try. A good plot, lots of style, and plenty of energy. It is not perfect, but that doesn't stop it from being a fun ride.

Director:

-Jingle Ma

Language/Cuts:

-Original Cantonese/Japanese language.

Grade:

B

Pictures: