Film review: Mission Milano - Andy Lau in derivative action comedy
Lau lacks chemistry with co-star Huang Xiaoming in latest sloppy, unoriginal Wong Jing film, whose globetrotting story proves no more than a thread to link up all the disjointed components
Mission Milano, the latest film scripted, directed and co-produced by Wong Jing, is not a total disaster. Led by two superstars (Hong Kong’s Andy Lau Tak-wah and Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming) and partly shot in the scenic Italian city of its title, this big-budget action comedy is nonetheless so sloppily written and utterly derivative that it may struggle to register in your mind even before end credits roll.
Lau plays Interpol secret agent Sampan Hung, who is separated from his wife because he’s too busy “saving the world” – a phrase that the characters throw around all the time. When the magical “Seed of God” – a biological invention that could stop famine but make agricultural countries bankrupt – is stolen by some generic bad guys from an international criminal conglomerate, Sampan must team up with billionaire entrepreneur Louis Luo (Huang), in fact the heir to a family of vigilantes, to take it back.
Unlike some of Wong’s fantastical stories, Mission Milano is presumably set in a realistic world in which logic, common sense and respect for women are all in short supply. With the ultimate villain turning out to be a source of anti-feminist jokes, and the Seed of God a plot device of no real-world significance, the globetrotting story proves no more than a thread to link up all the disjointed components, ranging from an irrelevant gambling scene in a Macau casino to a random street race straight out of Initial D.
Ever the pop culture appropriator, Wong also recycles sci-fi weapons (the sonic shotguns in Minority Report; the Jedi’s light sabre) and trap design (Resident Evil’s laser corridor) we’ve seen elsewhere (and better). Though the secondary characters – Wong Cho-nam as a comic sidekick, Michelle Hu Ran as a sexy heroine and Petrina Fung Bo-bo as a funny dementia patient – do all right, it’s a pity to see Lau and Huang’s cocky screen personas clash with such negligible chemistry. This is slick but disposable fare.
Mission Milano opens on September 29
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