TL;DR – Take Bond, True Lies & Oceans 11, add a strong Chinese sensibility, and a dash of French for good measure.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
P.S. – There is a mid-credit scene
Ah betrayal, nothing motivates a protagonist more than trying to find out who betrayed him and left him for dead in prison for five years. Indeed, this is at the heart of what makes The Adventurers work as it blends the gadget work of James Bond, with the camp absurdity of True Lies, and the best heisting from the Ocean’s 11 series, and somehow it all works. Indeed, this is the second heist film that we have had this month with Logan Lucky (review) also in cinemas, and I have to say I liked The Adventurers better.
So to set the scene, as I said at the start of the film we see Cheung Tan (Andy Lau) a world class thief get captured as he tried to steal part of a necklace from The Louvre. But he was not captured because he was a bad thief, he was captured because someone betrayed him and someone else called the cops on him. So it was not a good day for the master thief, not a good day at all. However, Cheung served his time and five years later he walked free from the prison only to be met by Detective Pierre Bissette (Jean Reno) the man who arrested him to remind Cheung to stay on the straight and narrow. Of course, Cheung listens to Pierre and respects his position for all of about five minutes before he escapes in a helicopter and you can bet he will continue what he started and get all three parts of the necklace. Of course to do that he needs help, which is where his protégée Chen (Tony Yang) who is a ‘computer whiz’ and new hire Ye ‘Red’ Hong (Shu Qi) an infiltration expert come into play, and we get the first of many heists. Oh but wait, because you can bet Pierre, is going to team up with Cheung’s former girlfriend Amber (Zhang Jingchu), who Cheung was exploiting because she is an art appraiser to try and stop him.
One of the things I really liked about The Adventurers was the cast who for the most part seemed up for just about anything. You have the stoic leader, the naïve protégée, the excitable youth, the determined detective, and the exploited former flame. As the main lead, I really liked Andy Lau’s ability to command the scene, he had a lot of charisma, and really made the most of the Bond persona he was imbuing. I also quite liked Tony Yang as the tech expert who is charming because he does not know what charming is, though he does need to learn how to read a room. Finally, of course Jean Reno is amazing here, the man made Godzilla watchable so if you give him a good film and let him have at it, well he is going to be great. Indeed I think the highlight of the film for me was when he walked out of a meeting and called the person a ‘prick’ which just perfectly captured the moment.
Another really good aspect of The Adventurers were the action sequences, of which there was a number of throughout the film. For me, I think the best action sequence was probably the car chase through the streets of Cannes. Watching Pierre try and chase down Red whilst Chen gets motion sickness was a very amusing moment. Over all, while the action does slip a couple of times into the realm of absurdity, it still works well throughout the film.
Now what I was not expecting when I went to go see The Adventurers was getting extensive Prague flashbacks, indeed they use some of the most picturesque locations throughout the film. This is where the film does a great job imbuing itself with that classic James Bond feel, jumping from one exquisite location to the next. We start in the coastal streets of France, power through the mountainside, through cities and sunflower fields and into the heart of medieval Czech Republic. All of this gives the film a level of scope and reach that it would just not get otherwise. Also, this multi-country jaunt means that The Adventurers is a multilingual film and in today’s media landscape it great to see, but like Kung Fu Yoga (review) there are those interesting moments when for example a Chinese thief and a French police Officer talk to each other in English whilst in a Czech castle.
While I enjoyed The Adventurers, the film did have some issues, but to explain some of them may mean giving away a bit of the story, so there maybe [SPOILERS] ahead for you. While I did like all the cast and their rapport with each other, some of the dialogue did feel stilted, like the editing didn’t quite get the rhythm right. As well as this, the second act really starts to drag, because there is an undercurrent of a mystery ‘who stole the gem from Cheung and sent him to jail’ well we already know it was King Kong (Eric Tsang) Cheung’s mentor. Not only does this really undercut the tension they are trying to build but it also renders null and void any shock when the betrayal is revealed. Also while the visual effects were ok, the CGI was still not quite there, so it was good that they didn’t use it for much.
In the end, The Adventurers was a fun straightforward film that romped its way across Europe, and it was a nice change of pace. So do we recommend it, yes of course we do, sit back and enjoy the fun, though just be prepared that you will cringe in more than a few places.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of …
Directed by – Stephen Fung
Screenplay by – Stephen Fung, Cheung Chi-kwong, Andy Lo & Steve Ha
Music by – Tuomas Kantelinen
Cinematography by – Shane Hurlbut
Edited by – Angie Lam & Joel Cox
Starring – Andy Lau, Shu Qi, Zhang Jingchu, Tony Yang, Jean Reno, Eric Tsang, Sha Yi, You Tianyi, Zhang Yiqun & Karel Dobrý
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: na; United Kingdom: na; United States: na