Dong jing gong lüe [Tokyo Raiders] (2000)

(On DVD, August 2002) Unlike many dour Hong Kong action films, this one doesn’t waste any time pointing out its amusing nature, as it begins with a playful fight scene in which star Tony Leung dispatches a series of opponent in a way which would make James Bond feel ashamed. In fact, the martial art scenes in Tokyo Raiders often feel like riffs on Jackie Chan’s antics, including a male/female fight accompanied with a tango-inspired musical piece. Acting highlights go to Leung for his portrait of a dapper action man, but it’s no secret that the action scenes are the film’s main selling points. The highlight is the middle fight/chase sequence, which involves a golf-club battle, a chase using a motorized skateboard and a deliriously fun sequence aboard a car-freighter truck. The closing boat chase underneath one of Tokyo’s highways is also impressive. It’s a shame, though, that foreigners such s myself won’t properly appreciate the cultural shock of Chinese characters in Japan. (There are a few scenes where characters have to translate for each other, which of course doesn’t come across very well in English!) The DVD includes a fluffy making-of documentary which proves to be eerily similar to its Western counterparts. (Interestingly enough, the subtitles of the documentary don’t exactly match the subtitles of the feature…) Despite some lengths and a touch too much pathos in a film that is otherwise quite lighthearted, Tokyo Raiders is one of the most polished, accessible Hong Kong action films of the year. Don’t miss it!

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