Well, this is just a whole bunch of nonsense.
I’ve talked a lot about Jackie Chan’s attempt to bring back the fun of his action classic Armor of God with the ill-fated CZ12, despite never having actually reviewed it. To me, it’s a typical example of modern cinema ideals attempting to recreate something they never could. Jingle Ma’s Raiders series has never been a critical darling but they had a charm about them, and a low budget aesthetic that helped them. 13 years on, and cinematic tastes have changed – now favouring big, flashy Hollywood visuals. How has this helped the franchise?
Europe Raiders stars Tony Leung as Mr Lin, a secret agent or bounty hunter of sorts. He’s one of those impossibly good at everything types. He has been tasked by the CIA to locate an extremely powerful weapon – the Hand of God – which has been stolen by the creator’s own daughter Sophie (Du Juan). Teaming up with a fellow bounty hunter name Wang (Tiffany Yan Tang) and Sophie’s brother Rocky (Kris Wu), Lin sets off to track down the missing weapon before it’s too late.
Europe Raiders seemingly has no ties to Jingle Ma’s other two films in the franchise, with Leung’s character not the same as his previous, and none of the recurring stars returning. So why on Earth does it feel so much like a sequel to movies that don’t actually exist? The story breezes through character introductions and lore like we’re expected to know just what the hell is going on, despite the fact there’s nothing to back it up. We’re just thrown into this insane Spock-themed Christmas dinner like it’s normal and things only get weirder from here.
Lin’s entire plan is one of the most convoluted and unlikely scenarios I’ve ever witnessed in all of cinema. I’m reminded of those endless “I knew you’d try this, so I did that” back and forths you get in absurd shonen battle anime. Agent Lin is so many steps ahead it’s almost pointless to even have any kind of story – not that there’s much of one in the first place. You hear of dumb popcorn movies where you’re advised to turn your brain off and enjoy the spectacle. This is sort of like that, but there isn’t even that much of a spectacle to behold.
The action is definitely fun and has some inventive moments, notably through the use of a regular bouncy ball. Tony Leung and his stunt double are great here, as is the rest of the cast, but everything is shot in such jittery ways that it’s not easy nor worth the effort of trying to focus on any of it. No shot in the entire film lasts more than 4 seconds, and during the car chases and fight scenes, this is reduced even more so.
And it’s a shame because Lin and his ragtag group of warriors should have made for some baller moments. A character whose entire schtick is that they punch with shoes? There’s some good stuff to mine there, as is with many of the other characters. But instead we’re stuck with unconvincing romantic chemistry and Lin doing ludicrous stunts and hatching impossible plans. Tony Leung’s innate charisma can only take a movie so far, and not even his perpetually affable face can give Lin any real personality.
I don’t have much more to say about this movie. I didn’t actively hate watching it, even if their Spocks were talking Klingon for some baffling reason. It reminded me of films like Manhunt, which could have been better if they had been made a while ago. Europe Raider’s unbelievably stupid tone would have actually been stomachable if it had been made decades ago, with a more deft hand like Stephen Chow’s. This is a film from this year with a sense of humour from the 80s and a VFX and editing showreel from 2002. Come on Hong Kong, you can do better than this.
Verdict: Europe Raiders is a perfect example of an action comedy not giving a shit, and appealing to nobody.
Overall entertainment: 4.5/10
Good jokes: The use of Kung Fu Hustle’s Landlady character
EMPs: The latest model is apparently completely useless
Pizza express uniforms: Sailor costumes apparently?
Europe Raiders (2019)
Also known as:
Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Klingon
Director: Jingle Ma
Writer: Jingle Ma
Tony Leung Chiu-wai – Mr. Lin
Kris Wu – Rocky
Tiffany Yan Tang – Ms. Wang
Du Juan – Sophie
Jakob Graf – Peter Lawson
Alberto Lancellotti – Mafia boss
Daniel Gutin – CIA Intelligence Director