China Strike Force (2000)
Reviewed by: ipkevin on 2001-01-11
Summary: Better than expected
China Strike Force is another big holiday blockbuster out of Hong Kong and, like all major HK actioners these days, it's a Hollywood-wannabe. Fortunately, it comes at a time when HK filmmakers have finally figured out how to make a Western-flavoured HK movie. Older Hollywood-goes-Hong-Kong productions like Hot War, Extreme Crisis, and Downtown Torpedoes were awkward exercises in tedium. Bad scripts, bad pacing, bad direction, bad action, bad everything. But with Tokyo Raiders, 2000 AD, and now China Strike Force things are looking up. Sure, these films may still suffer from bad scripts (so do Hollywood movies), but the pacing and direction have improved markedly. And those are really the key "tricks", aren't they? Keep things moving fast and looking good, and no one will have time to consider the problems.

So essentially what you have in China Strike Force are two Chinese agents (Aaron Kwok and newcomer Leehom Wang) taking on drug dealers played by Coolio and Mark Dascascos. Let's make it clear now: Aside from the general outline given above, very little else in the story makes sense or even matters. There are subplots about stealing discs and avenging dead partners that have absolutely no pay-off by the end of the movie. And having the Chinese and Japanese actors speak English throughout most of the film is generally not a good way to produce compelling performances.

Despite these difficulties, China Strike Force remains a good time at the movies. The pacing lags a bit towards the end but is otherwise fine, the performers look good, and the action scenes are impressive. There's an exciting chase with exotic cars in the middle of the movie that looks better than most Hollywood chases. I didn't think director Stanley Tong had it in him to do such a well-shot scene! The wire-assisted stunts are quite good and the climax is worthy of Jackie Chan. If there is a problem in the action department, it is the fight choreography. The moves are boring (mostly weak-looking kicks) and the execution is sloppy. Even the battle between two experienced martial artists, Ken Lo and Mark Dascascos, is bad. Perhaps the big stunts took up all their preparation time? But this is a minor concern. In the best (or is that worst?) Hollywood tradition, China Strike Force delivers thrills and pretty faces and goes down easy. And that's all a big, dumb holiday blockbuster needs to do.