Tony Leung Chiu-wai returns in Europe Raiders, action comedy sequel beset by haphazard screenwriting – review
Veteran filmmaker Jingle Ma looks to revive a winning formula from the early noughties, but this film is badly scripted and there is zero chemistry between Tony Leung and Chinese actress playing his old flame, Tiffany Tang
With 2000 film Tokyo Raiders and 2005 follow-up Seoul Raiders, Hong Kong filmmaker Jingle Ma Chor-sing hit on a winning formula. The action comedy films offer a flashy mix of bankable actors, scenic locations and pseudo-hi-tech setting.
However, 2018’s Europe Raiders is unlikely to generate the same enthusiasm among cinema-goers as its predecessors given production budgets have gone through the ceiling amid China’s rise as a filmmaking superpower.
Only Tony Leung Chiu-wai from the earlier films opted to return for Europe Raiders, a sequel-in-spirit that appears to have been engineered to satisfy the tastes of audiences in China.
While Leung reprises his role as the fabled bounty hunter Lin Zaifeng, the rest of the cast is made up of popular Chinese actors, from Kris Wu ( Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back ) to Tiffany Tang Yan ( Cook Up a Storm ) and Du Juan ( See You Tomorrow ).
The plot, set mainly in Italy and revolving around Lin’s investigation of an international conspiracy alongside an old flame (Tang), is nothing to write home about. Several years after an omnipotent total-surveillance system has been taken away from its inventor (George Lam Chi-cheung) by the CIA (uniformly portrayed as buffoons) and used for nefarious purposes, his vengeful hacker daughter (Du) steals it back from the US government, and goes rogue.
Things turn complicated when she demands the release from prison of her younger brother (Wu), bearer of a powerful computer program that could be used alongside the surveillance tech to mobilise any weapon system in the world. But enough about the plot – Europe Raiders is really such a haphazardly scripted story, and is at times so wilfully detached from reality, that a viewer unfamiliar with the earlier films might easily suspect it is a comic-book adaptation.
It does not help that Leung and Tang, whose characters’ tentative affair forms the backbone of the narrative, share zero romantic tension on screen. While its action is decently choreographed, and its silly gags mildly diverting, Ma’s film struggles to engage because of its weak script.
Even the final plot twist, which is supposed to reverse our perception of the story, is more perfunctory than enlightening.
Europe Raiders opens on August 30
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