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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Bounty Hunters – Lee Min-ho stars in stylish, utterly foolish action comedy

Lee’s presence will probably be enough to win over his legions of fans, but the movie is an incoherent and unfunny mess that never convinces for a second

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 July, 2016, 11:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 July, 2016, 11:01am

1.5/5 stars

This amateurishly conceived action adventure has little going for it other than the rising star of Korean heartthrob Lee Min-ho, which may nevertheless prove enough for his legions of screaming fans. Directed by Shin Terra (My Girlfriend Is an Agent) and scripted by Edmond Wong Chi-woon (son of producer Raymond Wong Pak-ming), Bounty Hunters is a Chinese-Korean espionage comedy that intermittently amuses but never comes across as being remotely plausible.

Martial arts expert San (Lee) and master sleuth Yo (Wallace Chung Hon-leung, recently seen in Three ) have been working as bodyguards-for-hire, to little success, since they were dismissed as Interpol officers a year ago. When a vague commission leads them to a hotel room in Incheon, South Korea, a terrorist bombing duly takes place and turns the bumbling investigators into wanted suspects. Their informant dies at the scene, but the pair also immediately find themselves pursued by a rival group of bounty hunters.

After an exhilarating if rather unnecessary car chase, San and Yo join forces with a trio: bossy heiress Cat (Tiffany Tang Yan), on an anti-terrorist mission since her lost childhood; tech guru Swan (Karena Ng Chin-yu), the resident hacker and maker of fantastic gadgets; and the muscled Babe (Louis Fan Siu-wong), who is Cat’s butler and provider of the film’s cutest gags. To clear their names, the quintet must track down the culprit of a series of bombings that have plagued an international hotel group.

As the action jumps from Incheon to Bangkok and then back to Korea’s Jeju Island, the incoherent sketches of action provide a pretext for constant, gratuitous posing by the film’s glamorous actors. It’s a pity that Bounty Hunters is blessed with neither quality zingers (“We’re in deep trouble.” “Yes, we’re in deep trouble.”) nor the requisite level of tension: we never even see the protagonists, framed as terrorist suspects on a pan-Asian bombing streak, targeted by any law enforcement officers.

And the less said about Jeremy Jones Xu Zhengxi’s villain, the better. Everything related to his character Tommy – from his obnoxious tetchiness and flamboyance, to his enthusiasm for deadly yet indisputably stupid “games” – reeks of clichés. Then again, Bounty Hunters is all about meaningless imitation. At one point, San and Cat abruptly share a kiss in an empty corridor in front of Tommy – which has less to do with concealing their faces than mindlessly recycling a trick from countless movies past.

Bounty Hunters opens on July 28

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