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Posts Tagged ‘Louis Leterrier’

Another week, another installment in one man’s odyssey round every Vue multiplex within the M25. Yes, it’s New Cinema Review again, and this time it’s the Vue Islington, offering yet another scam new pricing option – ‘Vue Extreme’, with bigger screens, better sound, and so on. The effect of the giant screen, etc, was really lost on me as I found myself sitting about a quarter of a mile away from it. I was quite impressed by the fact that the theatre actually had an usher who occasionally popped up in an attempt to ush the teenagers going berserk in the aisles – though this was still really just putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. O tempora! O mores!

Once upon a time it was quite unusual for a film to get what is called a day-and-date release – this is when a film is simultaneously unleashed upon audiences around the world. Before theatres went digital, the cost of striking all those extra prints was prohibitive except in the case of the very biggest, and most prone to be pirated, films. To give an example, Attack of the Clones got a day-and-date release, but the first Spider-Man didn’t, arriving in the UK two weeks after its US launch: something almost unthinkable for a major summer blockbuster today.

Now You See Me is a movie which looks like it’s pitching for blockbuster status – a decent stab at an all-star cast, populist director, big set pieces – and yet it’s arriving in the UK six weeks after the States. Possibly this is just one of those things, but possibly not.

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It is, on the face of it, a curious movie anyway: the trailer makes clear this is going to be a polished, slick movie with a twisty-turny plot concerned with multiple levels of ‘reality’ and a degree of gamesmanship in its dealings with the audience. This, put together with certain story elements and the presence in the cast list of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, instantly made me certain that this was a major studio’s first attempt at a Christopher Nolan pastiche.

What suggested that the movie might prove memorable was the fact that the director selected to duplicate Nolan’s wizardry was Louis Leterrier. Now, I have enjoyed every Louis Leterrier film I have seen, and he is the man partly responsible for The Transporter, surely one of the landmark films of the 21st century so far. I love The Transporter, but I also love Inception, and it would be stretching a point to say that the two films share much of a sensibility.

So I turned up to Now You See Me expecting either a pleasant surprise or an uproarious calamity. It is the story of four magicians – an expert in close-up magic, a street hustler, an escapologist and a mentalist – who are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco (no, me neither), Isla Fisher and Woody Harrelson. (To preserve a sense of mystery about the plot I will not reveal which of the quartet is required to appear in their opening scene wearing a clinging, glittery swimsuit.) Initially working individually, they are assembled by a shadowy figure who provides them with detailed instructions and blueprints to carry out a fiendishly complex plan.

The plan primarily involves doing naughty things with other people’s money: apparently robbing a Parisian bank during a live show in Vegas, for example. The FBI and Interpol take a dim view of this sort of thing and the job of figuring out how they did it is given to Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent. As the FBI is reluctant to suggest that the magicians actually robbed the bank using genuine magic, Ruffalo recruits ex-magician turned professional debunker Morgan Freeman to help him figure out how they did it – but the group’s backer, Michael Caine, does not want to see his investment ruined, especially with all the publicity they are attracting…

Now You See Me is predicated on one simple idea, which underpins the plot and whole philosophy of the film. This is that Magic Is A Good and Wonderful Thing In And Of Itself, and that – by extension – Magicians Are Innately Good And Wonderful People. As a result it is okay for them to rob banks, drive businessmen close to bankruptcy, and break into safes, as long as their victims are established as being Not Nice People. The script really does a number in terms of ensuring that the thieving conjurors come across as good guys, although there’s still the problem that one of their targets ends up going to prison, most likely for the rest of his life, his offence apparently being not much more than having a smug and annoying personality. Hmmm.

That said, the film looks good, it’s energetically directed by Leterrier, and the first half is filled with good set pieces and scenes where charismatic performers like Eisenberg, Caine, Harrelson, and Ruffalo get to trade some quite snappy dialogue. I rather enjoyed all this, and the appearance of Freeman’s character reassured me that this wasn’t going to be some dodgy thriller-fantasy fudge where the ‘magic’ would be left unexplained.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t really hold true for the entire film – some fairly outrageous things go on with barely a sniff of explanation given. There’s a fight sequence between Ruffalo and one of the magicians which almost plays out like something from an episode of The Avengers – the guy seems to disappear into thin air, starts shooting sparks out of his fingers, and so on. It looks good but it’s still a bit nigglesome.

The same can be said for most of the second half of the film – Michael Caine’s character does his own vanishing act, and it all becomes increasingly vague and far-fetched in plot terms. It is all capped off by the sort of twist ending which has you shouting ‘What! That’s completely absurd!’ at the screen. I’m virtually certain the plot of this film doesn’t actually make sense in light of the climactic revelations – even if it does in strictly logical terms, it’s still massively implausible – but the idea of watching it again in order to check really doesn’t appeal at all.

Still, it’s by no means the memorable disaster I was half expecting. Looking back on it from the closing credits Now You See Me is probably not a very good film, but while I was watching it I did quite enjoy it – particularly the first half. It is not deep or clever by any means – but it is glitzy, silly, forgettable, crowd-pleasing fun. All in all, and with all due respect to recent events, this is less Christopher Nolan than it is the Nolan Sisters.

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From the Hootoo archive. Originally published September 1st 2005: 

Hello again everyone, and welcome to another edition of the film review column that’s slightly rippled with a flat underside. Brain cells are strictly optional this week as we examine the latest offering from two of cinema’s premier knuckleheads, Jet Li and Luc Besson. Well, that’s probably a bit unfair, as both have been involved in making some rather good movies in the past – but then again they’ve both also been involved in some frightful yappers in their time. So, is their new film Unleashed (directed by Louis Leterrier) a triumphant fusion of Hero and Leon, or an appalling mixture of Lethal Weapon 4 and The Fifth Element?

This being a Besson-scripted movie it is of course a stylised and extremely violent thriller without, it must be said, much of a stranglehold on reality. The alternative title Danny the Dog sums up the premise rather well: Jet plays a guy called Danny who has been raised as a dog by gor-blimey Cockney gangster Bart (Bob Hoskins, slumming it). Bart has trained Danny to attack on command, which he appears to have to do rather a lot in the course of Bart’s protection-racketeering lifestyle – this seems a bit contrived seeing as Bart is supposed to have been a senior crook for about thirty years, has he only just started the racket as a new thing? Anyway, eventually Bart and his other cronies get very seriously shot up by an ambitious rival low-life, leaving Danny to wander off on his own. And who should he fall in with but blind piano-tuner Sam (Morgan Freeman, slumming it too) and his perky stepdaughter Victoria (Kerry Condon) – look, I’m really not making this up. Sam rehabilitates Danny, and soon it looks like only a hugely implausible reappearance by Bart and his crew can stop Danny from forging a new life and leaving the way of regular and protracted brutality behind. And you’ll never guess what happens then.

(All this supposedly takes place in Glasgow, by the way. All the Scots must be away while it’s happening as everyone in it’s either Cockney, American, Chinese, or Emma Thompson’s mum.)

It has to be said that this is a very silly thriller-cum-kung fu movie redeemed by the presence in it of two formidably talented actors. Having said that, neither Freeman nor Hoskins is especially well-served, as both their roles are rather two-dimensional. Morgan Freeman can probably get away with doing a piece of fluff like this as he’s already contributed to several impressive films this year alone, but Bob Hoskins hasn’t had a good meaty role in a high-profile movie for absolutely ages, which is a crying shame. However even here he does a terrific job of investing Bart with what humour, pathos and reality he can, and ends up probably sneaking the acting honours. Then again, this is the kind of movie where the actors are cast just to recycle their standard screen personae – so Morgan Freeman’s character is a font of undiluted wisdom and decency, Hoskins does his snarling Cockney brute from The Long Good Friday yet again, and Jet Li kicks everyone’s head in. It’s not so much a distillation of their best-known traits as a puree.

But it’s a film that sits easily in the Besson canon, as several of his better movies revolve around loners who are forced by events to rediscover their human sides – it’s the theme at the heart of Leon and The Transporter. Unleashed is this story taken one step further, arguably into the realms of the bizarre. I’m tempted to say that any film which makes a major scene out of Morgan Freeman and Jet Li going on a shopping trip to their local branch of Spar (Morgan spends his time sweet-talking the checkout girls while Jet happily drums on their melons) is worth seeing just for novelty value alone. The long and violence-free middle section is full of this sort of thing, it is incredibly and unashamedly sentimental and jars considerably with the extended fight scenes which essentially bookend the movie.

That said, there are few things in the cinema as reliably exhilarating as watching Jet Li whirl into action and the action sequences here are no exception. A daft subplot about pit fighting permits Besson and Leterrier to sneak in a set-piece ruck as good as anything in Li’s English-language movies, but all the rest are top stuff, particularly the climactic encounter between Li and Michael Lambert (which culminates in possibly the world’s first kung fu fight to the death in a toilet cubicle). The fights are what this film is ultimately all about and they don’t disappoint. The rest of it is admittedly extremely unconvincing, but Freeman and Hoskins always keep it watchable and it’s very difficult to actually dislike. Louis Leterrier does a very competent job with both the action and the dialogue scenes. He’s clearly a cut above the usual minions Besson gets in to direct his movies lately, which makes me particularly happy that his next project is not only a Jason Statham movie, but – could it be true? – an actual sequel to 2002’s The Transporter. Yes, there is a God! As for Unleashed – well, it probably won’t win many awards, but it will probably make its intended audience very happy.

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As a study in contrasts, and because it’s a guilty pleasure, let us examine the middle child of the mighty Transporter franchise, not entirely unexpectedly entitled Transporter 2. All the key personnel that made the first film so very special return for this 2005 sequel: Luc Besson writes and produces, Louis Leterrier directs, Cory Yuen choreographs the martial arts, and Jason Statham sweats a lot and battles to produce a convincing American accent. 

As the film opens, main man Frank Martin (Statham) has taken a break from his usual line as a getaway driver and underworld courier and is working as a chaffeur for a wealthy family in Miami, Florida (man of principle Frank may be, but he must have faked his references or something). All is not well as the husband (Matthew Modine, slumming it just a tiny bit) is a workaholic knob (but still a basically decent guy, as he works in drug enforcement) and his wife (Amber Valletta) is struggling with feelings for Frank (which, quite properly, he refuses to take advantage of, although this is possibly because he is – look, just keep reading). Frank is left to look after their young son.

Luckily enough, carnage ensues when suave mercenary Cellini (Alessandro Gassman) kidnaps the lad as part of a fiendish plot to undermine the international war on drugs, very nearly framing Frank for the deed in the process. With the FBI, local cops, and US Marshals all basically having their heads up their own bottoms, it falls to our hero to uncover the evil scheme and sort it all out. And if that means driving everywhere very fast, taking off his shirt, and kicking in crowds of stuntmen, well, a transporter’s gotta do what a transporter’s gotta do…

On one level this is a smart, slick, and confident sequel that knows its audience’s expectations well enough to play with them just a little. The movie opens with a reprise of the beginning of the original, with a neat twist and a fight sequence included just to make it clear that it’s business as usual here. There are some objectionably sentimental scenes between Statham and the kid but before very long the movie slams into top gear and stays there for the duration. Fashionable and a nuanced performer he is not, but Jason Statham is simply very good at this kind of thing: endlessly watchable, quietly charismatic, and almost always convincing in the martial arts sequences.

And yet, and yet. Transporter 2 is a perfectly efficient and confident action movie, but for me it doesn’t quite have the magic of the original film. At first I put this down to the fact that while the first film did a very good job of appearing to have been made ‘for real’ as far as most of its stunts were concerned, this instalment is stuffed with fairly indifferent CGI shots, and as a result the atmosphere created is much less involving.

I suppose you can say something similar about the story. The extraordinary thing for me about the first movie, particularly on first seeing it, was the way it basically consisted of a series of immaculately choreographed action sequences held together by one of the thinnest and least thought-through storylines I’d ever seen. It’s not that The Transporter‘s plot is silly: it’s just practically non-existent.

In contrast, Transporter 2‘s plot is rather complicated, but also utterly absurd, comic-book stuff about magic viruses and things like that. The tone is set by a sequence in which Frank has no end of bother trying to get away from a submachinegun-toting supermodel in lingerie (Kate Nauta) who later transforms into the pole dancer from Hell. It’s just very, very silly, obsessed with image rather than any kind of substance or plausibility (then again, as I’ve already mentioned this is a Luc Besson script, you could probably have taken that as read) and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. As an action movie, of course, this by no means makes it any less enjoyable.

One should probably mention the is-he-or-isn’t-he issue of Frank’s sexuality at some point in a review of this movie: director Leterrier is fond of going on about how Frank is actually gay, as demonstrated by his refusal to get it on with his employer’s wife – ‘it’s not who you are, it’s who I am,’ he growls by way of (rather vague) explanation. Certainly Frank’s legendary prissiness about his personal grooming and car support this idea, but (needless to say) Statham insists Leterrier never mentioned it to him, and it’s sort of undermined by the enthusiastically hetero pursuits Frank indulges in in the other two movies. Nice idea though.

Also nice is the presence in this movie of Jason Flemyng, who cheerfully overacts as a Russian germ warfare boffin in Cellini’s employ – just a shame he doesn’t get more to do, especially as he and Jason Statham appear to be having a private ‘who can do the silliest accent’ contest. Popping up from the first movie – and seemingly here mainly to establish some kind of connection with the original film beyond simply the presence of Statham in it – is Francois Berleand as Frank’s dodgy French mate Tarconi. He is basically just a comic relief Frenchman. I’m not sure any film has actually needed a comic relief Frenchman, but Transporter 2 departs so thoroughly from reality that you don’t really mind.

Am I coming across as at all ambivalent about this movie? If so, I think that reflects my feelings towards it quite well. On its own terms this is a fun, well-made, completely ludicrous action movie starring one of my favourite performers – it’s only as the sequel to one of my favourite, and most-watched films of the past decade that Transporter 2 is a little disappointing.

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From the Hootoo archive. Originally published July 3rd 2008: 

Friends, I have a confession to make. Mild mannered though I may appear, a terrible monster lurks inside me. I try to control it as best I can because I know the terrible suffering it can create when it runs out of control… but sometimes, no matter how I struggle, events conspire against me; a horrible mist obscures my vision, and I just… feel the urge… to REVIEW! Rarrgh! Awix review!!! Awix reviews everything in sight…!!! …until the critical ire of the beast is exhausted and I can relax and watch a Milla Jovovich movie without fear of an aneurysm.

Well, as luck would have it, today I found myself watching a film about a man with a similar problem, to wit The Incredible Hulk, directed by Louis Leterrier. This movie is a bold new concept as far as a wannabe summer blockbuster goes in that it’s a special-effects-laden adaptation of a classic American comic book. A bit of a gamble, I know. Who comes up with these crazy ideas?

Anyway. Edward ‘You’re Not Just Hiring An Actor, Even If That’s All You Actually Want’ Norton plays Bruce Banner, a fugitive scientist with anger management issues, who has fled the US and is hiding out in Brazil, presumably so he can get a tan, not because the other Bruce Banner (played by Eric Bana) ended up there at the end of the first Hulk movie (this gets complicated. Stay tuned). He is hiding out from the Army, and in particular General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross (William Hurt) and his moustache. This is because Banner has, rather nonchalantly, blasted his own brain with high-powered gamma rays (fairly unusual behaviour for a brilliant scientist, but bear in mind this is a Marvel movie), which means every time he gets ticked off or even just a bit excited he goes green, grows to about nine feet in height and demolishes everything in a two-mile radius. Banner can do without this, probably because the need to control his heart rate is wreaking havoc with his love life and there’s a very cute chick (Debora Nascimento) in his building who has a bit of a thing for him. However, the US Army, committed as ever to the precise and proportionate use of force, thinks that an army of berserk super-strong invulnerable ogres is just what they’re looking for and would quite like to talk to Banner about his giving a blood donation or twenty. As Ross is too American to be villainous enough for this kind of movie, he has recruited special forces expert Emil Blonsky to help him out in this department. Despite his name, Blonsky is British, mainly because it saves Tim Roth, who plays him, from having to do an accent. An inevitable freak accident, involving an even more inevitable cameo by Stan Lee, alerts Ross and Blonsky to Banner’s whereabouts, and off they go to Brazil to bring him home…

As you may recall this is Marvel’s second crack at a Hulk movie: the first one came out five years ago, was directed by Ang Lee, was rather overpraised by your correspondent at the time, and did rather indifferent business, probably because it was slow and talky, and the Hulk didn’t really start doing his stuff until the last forty-five minutes or so. The decision to do another movie may well come as a bit of a surprise then, but only to someone who’s forgotten the enormous name recognition and strength of the Hulk brand. (And it took Stan Lee two goes to get the comic right back in 1962, so it would be churlish to grumble.) This time, Marvel aren’t taking any chances as this is machine-tooled to be an absolutely mainstream blockbuster with some jokes, a proper bad guy, lots of stuff exploding, and absolutely no lingering close-ups of clumps of lichen growing on rocks.

This extends to completely ignoring the events of the first film, for all but that this starts roughly where that finished. The Hulk’s origin is retold in the opening credits and has been redone to be much more like the one in the TV show. The whole movie has been structured so as not to confuse people who only know the Hulk from the small screen – even Ed Norton’s hair has been redone to be much more like Bill Bixby’s (Bixby played Banner on the telly) – while still catering to purists who prefer the comic version. The movie covers all its bases to the extent that, at one point, Jack McGee and Jim Wilson (supporting cast from different parts of the franchise) cameo in the same scene. Their appearance, like that of Doc Samson (bear with me, normal people), is pretty much an in-name-only affair, solely calculated to push fanboy buttons.

Now that Marvel have their own film studio they have much more latitude to do this sort of thing. The main example of this in this movie is the way in which the origin of the main bad guy, the Abomination, has been redone. No longer is he just an evil version of the Hulk! No, now he’s a hybrid of an evil version of the Hulk and an evil mutant version of a recently deceased Living-Legend-of-World-War-Two (who’ll be getting his own movie soon, I shouldn’t wonder). It’s something to give Marvel Comics fans a nice gosh-wow moment, while not being so obviously geeky as to repel mainstream audiences. The same goes for the very final scene, which has all the hallmarks of something originally intended to run after the credits, presumably shifted into the movie proper on the grounds that you don’t put Robert Downey Jr (ooh, what a giveaway!) in the one bit most people aren’t going to bother to watch. Speaking as a comics fan, it’s a very cool moment, even if it does seem to be setting up a movie that’s still at least four or five years away. (The one time the movie oversteps the line when it comes to playing to the fans is when it foreshadows the – Box Office willing – ‘proper’ Hulk sequel. I ‘got’ the scene introducing Hulk 3‘s probable villain, but I doubt many normal people will.)

Enough fanboy wibbling! You want to know if it’s any good. Well, as I say, I overpraised the first Hulk at the time, which makes me cautious when it comes to this one. I will say Yes, it’s pretty good, in an unpretentious, CGI-heavy way. There are nice performances from Norton and Liv Tyler as his sweetheart, some amusing gags about stretchy trousers, and – as connoisseurs of the sublime Transporter series will know – while Leterrier may struggle a bit when it comes to character scenes and, to be honest, dialogue, he absolutely knows what he’s up to when it comes to doing action sequences. (Part of me thinks it’s a shame that Jason Statham isn’t in this movie, too – on the other hand, the Hulk’s hard, but he’s not that hard.)

However, Tim Roth’s part is atrociously underwritten, to the point where he can do literally nothing with it. His dialogue is simply terrible. It makes his role in the rubbish version of Planet of the Apes look like a masterpiece of character development, and I’ll bet now more than ever he’s regretting turning down the role of the Half-Blood Prince back in 2000. Purists may also complain that, for most of the film, Thunderbolt Ross is a bit too close to being actually evil, rather than the good-intentioned but thick-headed pain in the neck he generally is in the comic. And, for all its narrative flaws the Ang Lee Hulk had clearly had a lot of money thrown at it – the CGI here is impressive, but it seemed to me to lack the verve and scale of the action sequences in the earlier movie, as well as their primary-coloured comic-bookiness. Things are a little bit darker and more restrained this time round.

On the whole, though, The Incredible Hulk is solidly entertaining stuff which deserves to find an audience in a way the previous film didn’t. If you’ve encountered any version of the Hulk before and enjoyed the experience, there’s probably something here for you too. If you haven’t – well, it’s an efficient fantasy-action film, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the Marvel Universe shadings of the movie that make it truly distinctive, though, and after the very-much standalone Iron Man (seemed okay to me, but I saw it in Italian, alas) it’ll be interesting to see which direction Marvel Studios opts for with future projects.

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From the Hootoo archive. Originally published January 23rd 2003:

I can’t help but think back to one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make recently. It was a matter of long-term gain set against short-term self-gratification, one of integrity versus greed. Yes, I was sitting in a pizza restaurant trying to decide whether or not to have the sticky toffee pudding. If I did, I would feel guilty afterwards. It would do me no good beyond the immediate warm glow of sated gluttony. It would make a mockery of my resolution to diet this year. (But it came with custard, so I decided to – ahem – diet another day, and had it anyway.)

And now I’m faced with much the same dilemma as I lie here on my chaise-lounge, dictating this to one of the footmen, thinking about saying some positive things about the new action movie The Transporter. I want to say nice things about this film as I enjoyed it so much, but I’m well aware that I really shouldn’t because it is blatantly a very bad film indeed. I will feel guilty later. I will probably regret it. What little credibility I have left will probably desert me. But I must do what I must do.

In the mid 1990s Luc Besson looked like becoming a genuine Hollywood player, following the successes of Leon and The Fifth Element. But for some reason he’s turned his back on the big studios and nowadays seems content to midwife mid-range action movies like Kiss of the Dragon and now The Transporter (which he co-wrote and produced). Apparently directed by Cory Yuen (although there seems to be some deliberate obfuscation about this), this is the tale of Frank, an army veteran who has settled on the French Riviera. Sometimes he hails from North America. Sometimes he hails from North London. It all depends on which accent Jason Statham, who plays him, decides to employ in that particular scene. Frank is a freelance criminal specialising in getaway driving and being a courier of illicit materials. He is, of course, icily professional, living by his own set of rules. (Rule Number One is not ‘no women, no keeds’ but apart from this he is basically Leon with a driving licence.) But his carefree life, doing the odd job with the connivance of the local flics (happily, this means he doesn’t have to wear disguise at work and can do most of his getaway driving in his own car!), comes to an end when he discovers a package he has been contracted to deliver contains the lovely, if occasionally unintelligible Lai (Qi Shu). His client, the oddly-monikered Wall Street (Matt Schulze), takes umbrage at Frank’s peeking at the merchandise and tries to have him killed. (Refreshingly, Frank isn’t at all bothered about the kidnapping, only becoming outraged when his car is blown up.) It all turns out to be something to do with slave-trading, illegal immigrants, Frank taking his shirt off a lot and kicking people in, and a bizarre amount of product placement for an obscure brand of beer…

Jason Statham is one of those compellingly bad actors who only rarely come along. (My kitchen can act better than Statham.) His wandering accent is quite alarming enough but when coupled to a role which borders on the self-parodically clichéd, well, we’re in for something a bit special. That said, however, this man can do the business in the fight sequences, believably crunching his way through legions of goons before all is done and dusted. He’s part Bruce Willis, part Peter Ebdon, and always entertaining to watch.

Qi Shu struggles a bit in comparison, mainly because it’s obvious that she’s not acting in her first language. The script tries to help her out by restricting her contribution to high-pitched squeaks or unsubtitled Chinese for much of the film, but inevitably moments arrive when she has to speak in English. And what dialogue she has! Her first line is ‘I have to pee! Do you want me to do it in your car?’ (Statham’s face at this point must surely resemble Wittgenstein’s after just discovering a logical fallacy in the Tractatus.) Later on we get the gnomic ‘He brew up your car! He brooned down your house!’ which to me only suggests the producers couldn’t afford to have her part redubbed, and (said with an admirably straight face) ‘He was a bastard, but he was still my father.’ As the villain, Matt Schulze is weak, and the only other acting contribution worth mentioning comes from Francois Burleand as a world-weary detective, whose rather sly performance suggests he’s entirely aware of the quality of the film he’s appearing in.

The script has no truck with conventional niceties like logic, characterisation, motivation, or plausibility (Frank never bothers to ask Lai why she was being delivered to the villain!), instead lunging about from one action sequence to another. And this is the saving grace of the film, because the fights and chases are outstandingly well staged. (Even if the climax is nicked piecemeal from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Licence to Kill.) Yuen directs with enormous energy and pace (occasionally at the expense of the film’s coherence) and the cinematography is beautifully warm and vibrant – so much so that it rather resembles a car advert for much of the running time.

Ludicrous script. Atrocious acting. Frenetic direction. Great fight choreography and stuntwork. The results are terrible, but it’s an enormously entertaining sort of terrible. A guilty pleasure, and already a hot favourite for success at next year’s Lassie awards.

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