Publicity Stills of "Dragon Squad"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Action
Director: Daniel Lee
Starring: Sammo Hung, Michael Biehn, Simon Yam, Vanness Wu, Huh Joon-ho, Maggie Q, Shawn Yue, Xia Yu, Eva Huang, Li Bing Bing
RunTime: -
Released By: GV
Rating: NC-16

Release Date: 11 November 2005

Synopsis :

A team of young Interpol agents arrive in Hong Kong to give testimony at the trial of local crime lord ‘Tiger’ Duen.

Among them are American agent Andy Hui (Derek Chou), Taiwanese lawman Vanness Chang (Vanness Wu), mainland Chinese sharpshooter Cheung (Derek Chou) and local cops Lok (Shawn Yue) and Suet (Eva Huang). They are greeted by Hong Kong police commander Hon Sun (Simon Yam).

The heavily armed convoy taking Tiger to court is attacked by a ruthless team of North Korean agents, led by international terrorist Petros Davinci (Michael Biehn). Petros is seeking revenge for his brother in arms, who was killed by Puma and his brother, ‘Tiger’ Duen. At Petros’ side is his fierce enforcer, the former Korean special forces officer Ko (Huh Joon-ho) and a lethal lady sniper, Song (Maggie Q).

After Tiger is snatched, the Interpol team insists on tracking down Petros themselves. Hon Sun rejects their request and places the team in the care of veteran police officer Kong Long (Sammo Hung).

A burned out cop who has never come to terms with either his personal or professional history, Long Kong is reluctant to get involved. Finally, inspired by his young charges, he rises to the occasion, and leads the Interpol team on their quest for Petros and his team.

Petros uses every available weapon, including Tiger Duen’s girlfriend, Ching (Li Bing Bing), to outmaneuver his foes.

The mean streets of Hong Kong form a backdrop for a battle of wills, wits, and urban warfare.

Movie Review:

Hong Kong crime dramas were very popular during the 1980s. Classic examples of this genre include John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1987) and The Killer (1989). The suave assassins and cops, coupled with the slow motion shootout scenes were a joy to watch. In fact, this has become a culture on its own in Hong Kong cinema.

How would you introduce this winning formula to today’s MTV generation then? Daniel Lee’s latest work attempts to do that by putting together a mix of stylistic camerawork, fancy editing and popular good-looking heartthrobs. However, the very essence that makes old-school crime dramas so successful is lost in this confused action thriller.

The plot is typical for a genre like this. Five young Interpol agents arrive in Hong Kong to testify at the trial of local crime lord. On the way to court, the crime lord gets attacked by a team of merciless agents. Driven by grievances, the cold-blooded agents will do anything to get revenge on the police and the older brother of the crime lord.

The young and idealistic Interpol team insists on tracking down these agents themselves, much to the disapproval of the local police commander. Together with a world-weary veteran police officer who is supposed to take care of the young lads, urban warfare breaks out inevitably.

With so many characters, it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase an international cast of eye candy. From Taiwan, we have Vanness Wu, who has thankfully shaken off his boyband image. From Hong Kong, we have the charismatic Shawn Yue, fresh from Andrew Lau and Alan Mak’s Initial D (2005); and the charming Huang Sheng Yi of Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu (2004) fame.

The list does not end there. There is the acclaimed Xia Yu from China, the award-winning Heo Jun-ho from Korea and even Michael Biehn from America. As if that is not enough, the movie also features many other recognizable faces like Li Bingbing, Maggie Q and Isabella Leung.

With so many characters squeezed into 110 minutes, it is no wonder the movie falls into the trap of not being able to develop their personalities properly, resulting in one-dimensional roles. Although the plot sounds decent enough, it is ultimately let down by the movie’s storytelling.

Director Lee’s works include Black Mask (1996) starring Jet Li and the most recent Star Runner (2003), which was incidentally Wu’s first outing on the big screen. In his latest effort, the director places too much emphasis on visuals and style, neglecting the fact that a good crime drama should still engage the audience.

No doubt the camera work and editing are technically impressive, but they are unfortunately overdone throughout the whole movie. The grainy monochrome flashback scenes and the quick cuts seem rather showy at times.

Also, the movie’s attempts at pseudo-philosophical lines and voiceovers do not work as viewers do not feel enough for the characters in the first place.

Do not shun this movie yet, because it is not without its good moments. Old-school actors from the 1980s like Simon Yam, Ken Tong and Ng Doi-yung may not have much screen time, but they play their roles with such conviction that they easily leave a better impression than their younger co-stars.

The movie’s greatest saving grace comes from Sammo Hung, who plays the veteran police office with a burden to bear from the past. The 53-year-old action star shows us what he has still got in him.

Another action star from the 1980s, Chin Kar Lok, is in charge of choreographing the action scenes. Viewers who grew up watching older Hong Kong crime dramas will enjoy every moment of these fight sequences because they have been done with a lot of precision.

For the younger crowd, this movie may appeal in terms of its fancy visuals and its attractive lineup of cool-looking cast. For the more nostalgic crowd, it will be the veteran stars and the old-school down-to-earth action sequences that will draw them into the cinema.

Movie Rating:

(An old-school genre movie packaged with flashy post production and eye candy to accommodate the younger crowd.)

Review by John Li



DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004-2005, movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.