Hong Kong cinema expands its borders once more and brings us a new fast paced action/adventure film, starring the one and only Andy Lau and international known French actor Jean Reno. “The Adventurers” is the latest film by Stephen Fung, and it was known for some time to be a emake of the classic John Woo’s flick “Once a Thief”. The plot is, in spirit, very similar, but it is not a remake in its whole, just an action flick with a similar plot that plays in the same league.
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“The Adventurers” is about a thief who has just been released from prison. Then, he brings together a team of professionals to make a final big score which will make them millionaires. The job is simple: steal the important jewel “The Rope of Life”, the last of the three pieces that form the invaluable GAIA necklace. This group of thieves, led by Dan Zhang (Andy Lau) and his teammates Po (Tony Yo-ning Yang) and Red (Shu Qi) undertake a dangerous mission in search of this last piece of the puzzle; And all this while an old acquaintance of Zhang, the French detective Pierre (Jean Reno), tries by all means to stop him once and for all.
“The Adventurers” is a very estimable and entertaining film; a very charismatic and dynamic one with a lot of action set pieces. It has all the clichés (or a few ones at least) of this type of adventure and heist films, but this isn’t a bad thing if you use them to your advantage and play with them in a way that benefits the narrative.
Stephen Fung is no novice in the business, and he clearly knows what he’s doing. Films like “House of Fury” or any of the “Tai Chi Hero/Zero” series proves it. For him, this blockbuster genre comes in very handy, and he handles it great. To begin with, the pacing is very fast and dynamic. There isn’t any time where the movie drags, and that is a very positive thing to say about it. The run time will pass in a sigh.
The characters and performances are all charismatic and effective, as you can you expect from such a cast. We have the great Andy Lau starring the show, alongside a large number of supporting characters at his back. Andy Lau plays Zhang, a thief with moral codes in a typical personalized role made just for him, and you will see that he is at ease in any of these roles; Shu Qi, playing a Zhang’s sidekick, in a charismatic and extroverted role, is really fun and entertaining to watch; Tony yo-ning yang plays another Zhang’s sidekick, giving joy and humor to the adventure; Eric Tsang, playing a minor but still important role for the plot, and as always, he does great and every time he appears on screen is memorable; and finally, another star of the show who gives an international touch to the film is Jean Reno, who plays Pierre, the detective who is after Andy Lau. Jean Reno does a very good job. He is believable and very fun to watch, also adding drama and tension to his backstory.
Furthermore, “The Adventurers” is a very good looking movie, thanks, primarily, to the cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, who gives a lot of color and composition to his framing, and captures the actor’s emotions perfectly. The film’s locations are beautiful, and they add a special and international feeling to this Hong Kong flick.
A weak aspect about “The Adventurers” may be the predictable script which includes some plot holes, but to be fair, when watching this kind of productions, you take that as something natural and traditional, which the audience will tolerate and forgive. Another issue is a character in particular, played by Jingchu Zhang, who seems a bit forced in the plot and once the film is concluded, her character didn’t serve any necessary purpose, and seemed like he vanished on the air.
Overall, “The Adventurers” is a very favorable, entertaining, nostalgic and traditional Hong Kong blockbuster action flick which resembles many of the action films from the 80’s and 90’s; and in addition, it expands internationally with an European feeling.