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Infamous thief Cheung Tan has recently been released from prison. Soon after his release, Cheung immediately plots a heist with his partners Xiao Bao and Ye Hong in order to steal precious jewels in Europe. Meanwhile, French detective Pierre has been hot on Cheung's trails for many years. This time, he decides to capture Cheung and his gang of thieves for good.
The Adventurers is a Hong Kong action-thriller by experienced director Stephen Fung who had been responsible for movies such as Tai Chi Zero in the past. Starring Hong Kong star veteran Andy Lau as lead actor, Taiwan's Qi Shu as lead actress and French star Jean Reno as leading supporting character, the film tells the story of a thief who got betrayed by an unknown opponent while trying to steal one out of three valuable pieces of jewelry that form an incredibly valuable necklace. After spending five years in prison, the thief wants to complete his mission by stealing the three pieces of jewelry and uncovering those who betrayed him five years earlier. The skilled thief teams up with two youngsters and his former boss but can't be sure whom to trust, must face a determined French cop and has to deal with his former girlfriend who wants him to settle down.
The Adventurers convinces with an intriguing story with a few twists and turns in the last third that keep you hooked until the very end.
The numerous star actors deliver the goods. Andy Lau convinces as skilled thief who looks balanced on the outside but feels tormented inside. Qi Shu impresses as expressive and quirky thief who easily seduces men to take advantage of them. Jean Reno is great as haunted police officer who has his very own reasons to try to bring the thief down.
The film also intrigues with numerous charming locations around Cannes in France and Prague in Czech Republic. The thieves have to rob out a French auction house, a Chinese star actress and a Czech castle in the forest.
The movie convinces with tense situations where the thieves have to deal with unexpected opponents and difficult security systems leading to intense car chases and dramatic standoffs. They have to use technology, talent and intellect to solve numerous challenging problems.
The camera work is enjoyably calm for a contemporary action-thriller. Instead of focusing on shaky cameras for a more immersve experience, the director opted for precise shots that point out the thieves' cleverness which was the right decision.
There are only a few minor elements that kept this film away from being more than a good movie. First of all, the story of the film is partially inspired by John Woo's Killer Target. Some sources call this film a remake but I wouldn't go that far. Still, the resemblances are at times obvious. I always prefer original movies with new scripts over films copying or honoring classics.
Secondly, as so many Hong Kong action flicks, this movie also tries to include a few slapstick elements. However, these elements are quite wooden here and only distract from the interesting characters, locations and plot. It also takes away from the thieves' credibility when they are joking around on their extremely dangerous missions.
Thirdly, this film really didn't need any stereotypical love stories but includes two rather shallow examples of it. First of all, the relation between the veteran thief and his former girlfriend is predictable and shallow and doesn't add much to the movie. The script could have cut out and re-written these passages for a more vivid pace without too many unnecessary flashbacks. However, the second love story is even less intriguing and also adds some unwelcome slapstick elements to the film. The younger male thief constantly tries to impress the younger female thief and behaves like an inexperienced teenager while his arrogant love interest rejects his attempts in an overtly cool and dramatic way. Their relationship doesn't add anything to the story and even makes the characters less credible because personal and professional interests shoulnd't interfere when you're trying to raid a higly secured castle in the middle of nowhere.
Still, The Adventurers is an entertaining action-thriller with an intelligent plot, very solid acting performances, beautiful locations and costumes, interesting and challenging situations and smooth camera work. Despite a few flaws such as references to another movie, slapstick elements and shallow love stories, The Adventurers will entertain you from start to finish.
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