13 years is definitely a long wait for a sequel. But Europe Raiders is finally here, the third instalment of the Raiders series following Tokyo Raiders in 2000 and Seoul Raiders in 2005.
This time, the movie sees seasoned bounty hunter Lin Zaifeng (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) teams up with his rival/ex-girlfriend Wang Chaoying (Tiffany Tang) to assist the CIA to locate the missing “Hand of God” device. It was apparently stolen by the vengeful Sophie (Du Juan), who threatens to unleash a global catastrophe using the device unless her brother Rocky (Kris Wu) is set free from prison.
Gone are the balletic slow-motion camerawork, which used to be the series’ trademark fight sequences seen in the last two movies. We still get that signature slo-mo every now and then in Europe Raiders. But returning director Jingle Ma, who also served as the movie’s cinematographer here, is now more interested to shoot the action sequences with lots of quick cuts, whip pans and tight close-ups. This makes the scenes difficult to decipher what’s really going on, other than experiencing mostly blurry shots of throwing kicks and punches.
The overall storyline tends to be patchy in places, complete with an uneven mix of action, comedy, romance and drama meshes altogether. If that’s not enough, Jingle Ma even threw a last-minute twist to subvert our expectations. Was it brilliant? Not really, given the way the story is executed in a haphazard manner.
This leaves the cast, which is thankfully the least saving grace in this movie. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai pulls off a charismatic performance as always, even though I have to admit he looks too old to play such a role. He pairs well with Tiffany Tang, who in turn, delivers a feisty turn as Wang Chaoying. Their frequent love-hate relationship does help to prevent this movie from sinking down to the bottom. Watch the particularly amusing scene where they flirt with each other in the car.
As for the rest, Kris Wu provides a decent support as Rocky while Du Juan is perfectly typecast as the icy antagonist, Sophie. It’s nice to see George Lam return on the big screen as well, whose last appearance was Hi, Fidelity back in 2011. Lo Meng, Lau Ka-Yung and Yuen Qiu are mostly reduced to minor comic relief as Lin’s team members. Cung Le and Jeeja Yanin, in the meantime, are sadly underused in what could have been memorable cameo appearances as two main fighters working for Sophie.