Warriors of the Future

The future is filled with city-destroying plants and battling spider tanks in Ng Yuen Fai’s Hollywood-style action sci-fi.

“What end Pandora will bring to mankind?”

In 2055, the world as suffered years of robot war, environmental disasters and a generation of children born with serious illnesses. To combat the climate issue, huge domes are constructed over cities, designed to protect the people below while purifying the air above. This solution is, worryingly, called Skynet. But the Skynet isn’t the issue – rather, as construction was ongoing over the area of Hong Kong known as B16, an asteroid crashes carrying a plant known as Pandora that grows exponentially when it comes into contact with water, and begins destroying everything.

With a huge storm on the way and the lives of millions at risk, a local military force is put together, consisting of commander Johnson (Sean Lau), fighter pilot Tyler (Louis Koo), newbie Connor (Wan Gupeng) and a number of others who die very quickly. They are sent to infect Pandora with a virus that will alter its genes, making it unresponsive to water. The mission is overseen by Colonel Tam Bing (Carina Lau) and the commander-in-chief who also created the Skynet project Sean Li (Nick Cheung). Li immediately sabotages the mission, as the plant’s natural purifying qualities threaten his Skynet project, and so Tyler and company must fight their way to the pistil of the plant and inject it manually.

Everything about this movie is pretty dumb. Immediately, you get the impression that the movie was written without much research. Outside of the heavy use of “pistil”, the dialogue is filled with extremely vague and unscientific terms made so an audience can follow without too much effort. The problem here is that it means that nothing feels particularly real. Generically-titled scientists will be analysing data without actually giving us more information than that, and it gives the movie, despite its lengthy production, the feeling that it was written in somewhat of a rush.

It’s more evident than ever in opening narration, which talks of disasters without ever going into a single detail. It doesn’t sound like the experiences of someone who lived them, but rather somebody trying to explain their sci-fi spec script, despite having left their notes at home. It’s also there in character interactions, though thankfully in much smaller quantities, and if the science fiction never feels particularly meaty and interesting, at least the dynamics between the soldiers is entertaining enough. Not long into the film we’re introduced to Tyler’s former teammate Skunk (Philip Keung) who was dismissed after a catastrophic mistake at some point in the past. He brings a much-needed jolt of energy and life, and his scenes are by far the most fun.

Warriors of the Future looks like the sort of forgettable action blockbuster Sam Worthington would have been in ten years ago. Out of the all the Terminiator films this could remind me of, the fourth is arguably the one you don’t want. Though on the subject of Terminators, at some point Li sends some weaponised robots after them, and the fights against the mobile tanks are some of the most exciting scenes in the film. They’re certainly more interesting thqan the boring mantis aliens. They provide a new type of challenge for the main cast to overcome, and remind me somewhat of something I’d see in Metal Gear.

Other than that, there’s not much to this film. It’s visually dull, except during the establishing shots where we see the city overrun with Pandora vines, and filled with unearned orchestral swellings. The story is supported by the b-plot of Louis Koo learning to overcome the guilt of losing his daughter, while making amends with his former teammate Skunk. It’s not terrible, and once they get past the initial forced drama the dynamic between Koo and Keung  is pretty good. That is, when the little girl isn’t there to force another Koo flashback. I’ve seen worse CGI-heavy action sci-fis, and I’ve certainly seen lots of better ones. There are too many visual reminders of other films here, like the in-helmet shots lifted straight out of the Marvel films, that only result in you wishing you were watching something else.

Verdict: Decidedly meh, Warriors of the Future wastes some good opportunities, but at least you get to laugh at the names Pansy and Sissy throughout, so there’s that.

Overall entertainment: 5/10
Violence: 5/10, all CGI
Sex: 0/10, all CGI
Monologues: Haughty, but only one thankfully
Villains: Why bring the guy who owns all the Skynets to a mission that will make his biggest investments a failure?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Spoilers, I guess?

Warriors of the Future (2022)
Also known as: 明日戰記
Cantonese

Director: Ng Yuen-fai
Writer: Lau Ho-leung, Mak Tin-shu

CAST

Louis Koo – Tyler
Sean Lau – Johnson Cheng
Carina Lau – Tam Bing
Philip Keung – Skunk
Wan Guopeng – Connor Kwong
Nick Cheung – Sean Li
Tse Kwan-ho – Dr. Chan Chong-Chung

Eddy Ko

Sakurako Okubo
Janice Wu

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