REVIEW / CRIME THRILLER
THE ADVENTURERS (PG)
107 minutes/Opens tomorrow/2.5/5 stars
The story: Master thief Zhang (Andy Lau) is released from a French prison, where he landed after his last botched job of stealing the Eye Of The Forest, one-third of the priceless jewellery ensemble known as Gaia. With his long-time partner, Chen (Tony Yang), and a new recruit, Ye (Shu Qi), he goes after the person who betrayed him, even as detective Bissette (Jean Reno) is hot on his trail.
It is a pity the movie that Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau has returned to promote, after a horse-riding accident, is not a stronger offering.
His performance here as the thief Zhang is rather stilted, maybe because he is speaking in English and Mandarin, rather than his native Cantonese.
Neither is there much chemistry between him and Zhang Jingchu, who plays his wife, Amber, an art expert. At least Shu and Yang are mildly entertaining as they flirt and bicker as stock-character types - she the attractive femme fatale and he the earnest sidekick.
Director and co-writer Stephen Fung clearly had ambitions for a slick and stylish heist movie, but making something as buoyant as, say, Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven (2001) or even John Woo's Once A Thief (1991) is harder than it looks.
Simply setting the action in Cannes and Prague is not enough when the dialogue gets pretty laughable. Bissette says to Zhang ominously at the beginning: "Just because you're out of prison doesn't mean you're really free."
And inexplicably, Bissette speaks to fellow French cops in English at one point, which just suggests lazy film-making.
Neither is there much of a surprise when the identity of Zhang's betrayer is finally unveiled. The plot could definitely have been more adventurous.