The Adventurers

The title sort of sounds like a Harold Robbin's novel and like those novels this is a big, sprawling story, but  considering that it is directed by Ringo Lam and stars Andy Lau, my favorite face Wu Chien-lien and Rosamund Kwan it was a large disappointment. If I didn't know that this was a Ringo Lam film, I certainly would never have guessed. It has none of the focus, tight scripting, grittiness and tension that his films usually have and it is emotionally hollow to the core. Just as surprising is how poorly edited the film is with large illogical jumps and terrible continuity. One gets the feeling that the film was originally much longer and that Lam had to edit out large chunks of the film. Only then would the nonsensical and phony feeling relationships that develop make the least amount of sense. None of this film rings true - either narratively or emotionally.
It starts off with an intense scene that shows why Andy wants revenge as his family is murdered in front of him in Cambodia when he was a child, but many years later he is still trying to get his revenge against Paul Chun Pui (just kill him dammit !) in this long winded convoluted plot. Though Wu Chien-lien has a few nice natural moments, she is basically wasted in a girl in love role. Rosamund has much the juicier part as a wicked bitch and plays it well, but her strong feelings for Lau still play false. Lau is quite dreadful in this film as he maintains nearly the same expression of stoicism throughout the film. It was difficult keeping my finger off the fast forward button with this one. Of the Ringo Lam films I have seen, this would really be the only one that I have not liked. It just feels as if the film got away from him.

My rating for this film: 5.0


Reviewed by YTSL
 
There are some films that are proof that the association of star names to a project still really cannot guarantee its quality.  This 1995 offering is one of them.  This despite there really being no majorly bad elements in it and none of the at least competent actors (Andy Lau, David Chiang and Paul Chun Pui among them) and charismatic women (Rosamund Kwan and Wu Chien-Lien are no slouches in the acting department and also often are well capable of exuding quite a bit of magnetism) sleep-walking through this production.  On the other hand, director (and co-scriptwriter for this work) Ringo Lam's trademark intensity and grittiness is largely missing from a sprawling movie whose Cambodian sections are divided by periods (and on-location shoots) in Thailand and California as well as Hong Kong.
THE ADVENTURERS -- who ARE they?! -- is essentially a (male) revenge movie whose complications come from the main character's target being a big wig who's hard to kill and his getting involved with two women -- one of whom "happens" to be his enemy's kept woman; the other of which is the man's daughter -- as well as the C.I.A..  As befits his salary reputedly having taken up half of the film's budget, Andy Lau has the most screen-time of anyone.  Still, his part appears to be the most ill-defined and, consequently to the detriment of the story, difficult to understand; what with his shown as being plagued by nightmarish flashbacks to the day that Paul Chun Pui's character and other men "visited" the then boy's home yet not being as single-mindedly intent -- as others in his situation might be -- on erasing them (by wiping out the guilty party.  N.B. This is, after all, a Hong Kong action drama).
If only the focus had been shared more equitably with others:  That is, cast members who could make more of their parts than the Cantopop star; as well as characters who IMHO are more intriguing, believable, or both.  Considering that the roles of the film's two main women are not necessarily plum ones, credit ought to be given to:  The class act that is Rosamund Kwan for making her character into more than just a standard self-centered jealous bitch; and Wu Chien-Lien -- someone who definitely has her share of admirers! -- for successfully blending a squealy damsel in distress and spoilt little rich girl into an attractive proposition.  Then there are the two veteran actors who seem able to faultlessly play any part that they are given (and these range from an effeminate Peking Opera star (in "Peking Opera Blues") to traditional Chinese-cum-jazz musician ("C'est la Vie, Mon Cheri") to cowardly police chief ("The Heroic Trio") for one; and in numerous 1970s kungfu flicks as well as a 1980s Girls with Guns piece and now this for the other):  Paul Chun Pui convinces as a ruthless user of men and women who also is a protective father; and David Chiang managed to flesh out his role as a caring elder in the little time he was in THE ADVENTURERS.
Again, I'd emphasize that THE ADVENTURERS is hardly a disaster of a movie.  In addition to some good performances and certain nice -- but incidental? -- touches (I especially like Rosamund Kwan's violently tossing away a glass of champagne into the sea in reaction to a comment by Andy Lau, his gifting Wu Chien-Lien his shoes in mid-trek back to "civilization" plus both his and Paul Chun Pui's reactions to the rice cooked by Wu), full use has also been made of certain scenic locales.  In terms of evocative and beautiful shots, those that fill the screen as the opening credits roll are hard to beat.  It's just disappointing that the rest of this Ringo Lam film could not sustain the quality and feel of the alternately lyrical as well as -- you now have been forewarned -- violent opening scenes which are supposed to have taken place years before the ensuing others.
My rating for the film:  6.


DVD Information:

Distributor - Mei Ah

A very solid transfer with good colors and good detail. The scenes that take place in the dark are clear as well. The sound also impressed me in a few scenes - very sharp and distinct.

Letterbox

Trailer

Previews: None

9 Chapters

Subs - English, Chinese, None

Easy to read subs