1995, NR, 110 min. Directed by Ringo Lam. Starring Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Rosamund Kwan, Wu Sien-Lin, David Chiang, Victor Wong.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., March 22, 1996
Popular Hong Kong singer-actor Andy Lau Tak-wah stars as a vengeance-obsessed air force pilot in Ringo Lam's latest effort, The Adventurers -- a less-than-perfect, but adequately entertaining action/melodrama that overcomes its clichéd plotting thanks to some nice performances and Lam's tough direction. Having seen his parents murdered right in front of him as a child, Lau is eager to take down the man responsible for their deaths, a former CIA agent-turned-underworld-crime boss. But in order to get close to the mobster, he must go undercover as a member of his crime syndicate. Things become increasingly sticky when our melancholy antihero finds himself romantically entangled with both the gangster's daughter and his femme-fatale girlfriend, thereby allowing the usual ramblings about honor, duty, and betrayal to come into play. With its over-the-top action sequences and intermittent bursts of comic relief, The Adventurers is much closer -- at least in terms of content, if not quality -- to the Ringo Lam of such recent, slam-bang movies as Full Contact and Burning Paradise than the gritty stylist who gave us streetwise crime classics like City on Fire. Lam's nihilistic sensibilities have not dissipated altogether; it's just that his world view now makes room for happy endings or, at the very least, presents some hope for the future. Occasionally though, the film's uncomfortable mix of somber drama, crazed action, and silly comedy results in a slightly schizophrenic tone, making it difficult to get truly involved with the characters and the events on screen. With this in mind, it must be said that while The Adventurers has a lot going for it and stands on its own as a serviceable thriller, it just doesn't quite measure up when compared to the director's best work. Despite this, Hong Kong film buffs will probably want to see what could quite possibly be the last movie Ringo Lam makes in his native territory, as the talented filmmaker has already signed a deal to direct an upcoming Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle for Universal, and is hoping to permanently leave the Free City for a career in Hollywood. Yikes, sounds familiar.