The latest movie by superstar director, Ringo Lam, is a riveting work, chock full of action and adventure. It features gun-fighting, explosions, and a helicopter chase. Starring Hong Kong heartthrob Andy Lau, the movie is full of great characters. The script, by Lam and Sandy Shaw Lai-King, is brilliantly constructed.
The film opens in Cambodia in 1975 during the communist takeover. A young boy, Yan, sees his parents and sister killed by a traitor who had been a CIA double agent. Twenty years later, this kid grows up to be Andy Lau. He was rescued from the war zone by his uncle, Shang, portrayed by the great David Chiang, who also works for the CIA and becomes the orphaned boy's mentor. Chiang was a huge star in the 60's and 70's. He appeared in many, many martial arts films made by the Shaw Brothers Studios including "Heroic Ones" and "The New One-Armed Swordsman". He turns in a poignant, sensitive performance as the cool CIA operative guiding his nephew in his quest for his revenge against the killer.
One of the great things about "The Adventurers" is the presence of two [not one, but two] strong female characters in the script. The first one is the mistress of the killer, portrayed by the wonderful performer Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam. Attracted to Lau, she rescues him when he is injured in a botched assassination attempt. The writers have drawn an extremely complex personality for this talented actress. From the flirting glances exchanged with Lau to the look of horror when she is used as human shield by her so-called lover, Ms. Kwan Chi-Lam gives a powerfully moving performance.
The other strong female character in the screenplay is Crystal, the daughter of the evil Ray Lui. Sent to San Francisco for her college education, her father's minions keep close tabs on the young beauty. The CIA targets the girl as a way to get to the father. After his failed attempt to kill Lui, the CIA set up Yan [Lau] as the head of the strongest gang in San Francisco's Chinatown. He rescues the girl after she is kidnapped by a rival tong. They fall in love with each other and her evil father accepts Lau as his son-in-law and makes him his #1 man. Ng Sin-Lin gives an honest, heart rendering performance as the daughter ultimately who realizes the evil nature of her father. This sequence makes up the middle third of the film and both Andy Lau and Ng Sin-Lin turn in remarkable performances as the mis-matched lovers. The sequence runs the gamut from the most touching love scenes to metal crunching car chases to bloody shoot-outs. It keeps the viewer on the edge of the seat.
With his great film "City on Fire", Ringo Lam gained an international reputation and is single-handedly responsible for the Hollywood career of Quentin Tarantino. His latest feature, "The Adventurers", is a nice addition to a body of work that includes "Aces Go Places 4", "Prison on Fire", and the great "Full Contact".Copyright © 1996 J. Crawford