CHINA STRIKE FORCE
Directed by Stanley Tong
Produced by Stanley Tong, Barbie Tung & Andre Morgan
Written by Stanley Tong & Steven Whitney
Director of Photograpy Jeffrey C. Mygatt
Music by Nathan Wang
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Leehom Wang, Mark Dacascos, Coolio
2000/91 mins/Color/5.1 DD
2.35:1 anamorphic/English/Hong Kong/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Dimension Home Video DVD
In the past, I've written about the give-and-take relationship between Eastern and Western filmmakers, as the influence between the two has grown over the years. This relationship has yielded some fine films and opened the eyes of many to the power of international filmmaking. However, when the East and West join forces to make a movie, the results aren't alwasy as promising, such as with the U.S./Hong Kong co-production, CHINA STRIKE FORCE.
CHINA STRIKE FORCE introduces us to Darren (Aaron Kwok, Hong Kong's answer to Johnny Knoxville) and Alex (Leehom Wang, Hong Kong's answer to David Schwimmer) to police officers who have been trained for special operations, such as hostage incidents. Meanwhile, gangster Tony Lau (Mark Dacascos, from BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF) has gone against the wishes of his father Ma (Siu-Ming Lau), and gone into the drug smuggling business with an American hoodlum named Coolio (played by Coolio). When Alex and Darren get word of the smuggling operation (we never learn how they know), the two begin a pursuit of Tony and Coolio, which also involves Norika (Norika Fujiwara), an associate of Ma's who may be more than she seems.
Hong Kong action films are supposed to be over-the-top and offer stunts and sights that we, Westerners, have never seen. If anything CHINA STRIKE FORCE is under-the-top. The film was directed by Stanley Tong, a long-time associate of Jackie Chan, who has directed such Chan hits as RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, POLICE STORY 3, and POLICE STORY 4. But, left without Chan and his slap-stick mannerisms, Tong seems lost here. CHINA STRIKE FORCE does feature three incredible action sequences (one of which made me shout, "This is the best movie ever made!"), but these three scenes can't carry the movie. One involves a chase on foot which leads to a fight to stay aboard moving vehicles, the second is a race between a Lamborhini and a Formula One race car, and the third lends a new twist to the old "fight on a building that is still under construction" motif. These three scenes are very well done and show that Tong still has talent for directing action sequences.
However, the rest of the film is a total drag. For a movie that contains so many subplots, CHINA STRIKE FORCE has very little story. The majority of the film is simply scenes of the characters talking about drugs and crime or whatever. There was one twist during the finale that I wasn't expecting, but otherwise the story is D.O.A. Fans of BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF who were hoping to see Mark Dacascos in action again will be disappointed. While he is in many scenes, he only shows off his martial arts skills in two, and they are both brief. The most bewildering part of the movie is Coolio, once again, playing Coolio. All he does is whine and spout racial insults. For a movie that needed all the help that it could get, Coolio is instant sabotage. Hardcore fans of Hong Kong action movies may find something to like, but otherwise someone would have to FORCE me to watch this again.
CHINA STRIKE FORCE comes to DVD from Dimension Home Video, a company which has become infamous for mutilating Hong Kong films, but this one seems to be intact. (Just our luck.) The DVD offers an anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film, which has been letterboxed at 2.35:1. The image is very dull and shows grain in nearly every shot. The colors are good, but there is a sort of haze on the image at all times, and there is noticeable video noise in many scenes. At times, the picture looks as if the transfer cames from a video source, as opposed to film. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, which behaves more like a 3.1 track. The dialogue (which was shot simultaneously in Mandarin and English, so we get the English version here) is clear, and there are great stereo effects throughout the film. Also, there is a tremendous amount of bass. But, the rear surround effects are nearly non-existent, making the action scenes sound very odd. The only extras on this DVD are bonus trailers, but we do get previews for KILL BILL and SHAOLIN SOCCER.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©