REVIEW / ACTION THRILLER
GOLDEN JOB (NC16)
98 minutes/Opens today/ 2.5 stars
The story: Lion (Ekin Cheng), Crater (Jordan Chan), Bill (Michael Tse), Mouse (Jerry Lamb) and Calm (Chin Ka Lok) are orphans who grew up looking out for one another and later work together as a team pulling off all kinds of jobs. They decide to hijack a van transporting valuable medicine to supply a refugee camp. But things go south quickly when they realise the cargo is gold bullion.
Hong Kong triad movies were cool in the late 1990s, thanks to the Young And Dangerous series (1995 to 2000), which starred Cheng, Chan, Tse and Lamb. The flicks launched Cheng and Chan into superstardom.
With its themes of brotherhood and loyalty - not to mention its cast - it is clear that Golden Job is referencing the earlier films. But while fans might enjoy seeing a reunion of sorts, the new title does not quite work on its own terms as it leans too heavily on cliches.
What it gets right are the expensive-looking, high-octane action sequences, and some of the set pieces are pretty impressive.
Like a military mission, there is down-to-the-second precision as the crackerjack team attempts to waylay the van in Budapest, Hungary, even as its position is being constantly tracked by GPS as well as a helicopter escort overhead.
There is also a fast-and-furious car chase in Fukuoka, Japan, with some hot wheels nabbed from a car expo.
In the final showdown, four men take on a heavily armed and fortified private island in Montenegro.
But this sequence plays out like a shooting video game, with firepower amped up to the max as bullets rain down non-stop - yet largely avoid the heroes.
Meanwhile, the story of strained loyalty is too familiar and it also feels lazy, with Eric Tsang as a father figure who is conveniently placed in peril.
Not helping matters are a jarring soundtrack and an inexplicable sake festival which Lion and gang help out at.
Perhaps having fewer characters would have improved things. The five men are painted in such broad strokes - saintly, short-tempered, show-offy and mousey - that they are little more than stock figures.
Oddly enough, despite serving as director, Chin's role is the least developed. Maybe he did not want to be accused of favouritism.