Tokyo Raiders (HK 2000)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/11/02
Director: Jingle Ma
Cast: Tony Leung (Chiu Wai), Ekin Cheng, Kelly Chen, Hiroshi Abe, cameos by Cecilia Cheung, Yuko Moriyama

Somewhat of a rarity in Hong Kong cinema, this film is as fun as it is silly. Macy (pretty Kelly Chen) is your typical beautiful girl who gets stood up at the altar by her Japanese fiancé. When she goes back to Hong Kong to sort things out, she runs into a flighty Ekin Cheng who starts harrassing her about money that her boyfriend owes him. It seems like her lover has disappeared altogether, so she flies to Tokyo to search for him. Much to her annoyance, Ekin follows her, hoping to settle his debt. But things aren't as they seem, and the two of them find themselves in a mess of trouble with the local Yakuza. Fortunately, slick and suave Tony Leung shows up to rescue them, and the plot thickens. And thickens, and thickens... Pretty soon you don't care about all of the ludicrous plot twists and are just looking forward to the next high energy action piece.

I initially picked this up because I saw Yuko Moriyama's name in the credits. Sadly, she only has about twenty seconds of screen time, and most of that is from behind at a distance. *sigh* On the plus side, ultra-cute Cecilia Cheung has a slightly larger cameo that involves a very brief, but very satisfying exchange of fisticuffs with Ekin Cheng. Hong Kong beauty Kelly Chen is reduced to a demeaning damsel in distress role. She's helpless, annoying, and constantly in need of rescuing, but she has the whole "heartbroken girl who's still blindly devoted to the jerk who dumped her" thing down to perfection. Her breakdown at the bar is genuinely heartfelt and proves that she's capable of being much more than just window dressing.

The action scenes are wild and crazy, and lots of fun. They're well choreographed and nicely executed, but slightly tainted with stomach churning cinematography and bad editing. The real shocker is that Ekin Cheng actually fights instead of just posing and flapping his arms around. And he's quite good, too. I was very impressed and have new respect for him. Tony Leung holds his own, performing some intricately silly fight scenes and impressive stuntwork. The Tokyo locations are beautiful to behold and lend themselves to a variety of great set pieces. But what surprised and pleased me the most was the movie's offbeat soundtrack, which featured infectious, high energy Latin pop that seemed to perfectly complement the tone of the film and the style of the action sequences. I actually can't imagine the film with any other music after having seen it.