Review by Walid Habboub
November 20, 2001
Strange. That's the best word to describe Tokyo Raiders, a film by Jingle
Ma. Ma is one of the rising stars of Asian cinema and his previous high
profile work was as cinematographer for some of Jackie Chan's best movies
including Drunken Master II (Legend Of Drunken Master in North America) and
Police Force. But strange is a good thing. From the techno-latin music to
the mind-bogglingly convoluted story, Tokyo Raiders is almost a parody of
parodies and is constantly entertaining.
Clearly a graduate of Chan and Yuen Woo-Ping's school of high-energy action
mixed with a light-hearted feel in this film, Ma walks the thin line between
comedy and parody yet never delivers anything that borders on the silly.
While clever, Tokyo Raiders doesn't go for originality but does use normal
Hong Kong cinema tools and twists them to present a fun, light, and
This is Hong Kong popcorn cinema at its best. Legendary actor Tony Leung
plays Lin, a private detective on a secret mission. Up and coming superstar
Ekin Cheng plays Yung, an interior decorator entrapped in a web of secrets
and double-crosses. This is equivalent to pairing Sean Connery and Nicolas
Cage in The Rock, except Leung isn't 137 years old.
Leung, best known for his serious dramatic roles, takes a fresh
light-hearted tone in this film as his Lin is played at an almost Austin
Powers level of parody without going too far. His "assistants" are 4 bubbly,
subservient to him yet completely deadly to others, sexy Kung Fu babes. His
gadgets include an overcoat ripe with gas bombs, glue bombs and an
often-used cattle prod/stun gun. His character is contrasted by Cheng's
Yung; a poor man's Jackie Chan, Yung starts off as the witty yet unfortunate
loveable miscreant, and eventually turns into the high-flying, Jet skiing
At the center of it all is Macy, played by Kelly Chen, another up and comer
in Hong Kong cinema. Macy is the focus of the film as she holds the key to
unlocking the secret to the complicated story that involves the CIA,
Japanese spies and the Japanese mafia. Chen has a glowing on-screen presence
and if she isn't a star yet, she will be soon. She delivers a very good
performance when she needs to.
The film itself is brisk and fun to watch. Though it lags in some places as
it takes time to reflect on an emotional center, which is non-existent, the
overall pace is quite hectic and is a joy to watch. The action is nothing
new or anything that hasn't been done before, but as it is balanced out with a complicated
story, a laid back feel, incredible sets and decent action, the film is a
The North American DVD is quite basic with very few new features. The
additions include a 22 minute "making of" special and theatrical trailers. The
digital transfer is excellent with very good sound to boot. The subtitles
are a beautiful shade of vibrant yellow and strategically placed under the picture
when viewed in wide-screen format. The dubbing is neither good enough nor
bad enough (or even bad enough in a good way) to point out. The "making of"
special contains enough behind the scenes out-takes to be interesting while
presenting some strange and oddly entertaining observations about the
different actors. The movie itself is a definite buy recommendation and
while the disc offers very little in addition, the transfer is of good
enough quality to make the disc worth owning.