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職業大賊 (1998)
T.H.E. Professionals

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/17/2007

Well, our last review was for Killing Skill, a "homage" to Desperado, and now we have T.H.E. Professionals, which besides having a very silly title, is a ripoff of Michael Mann's heist epic Heat. Thankfully, the results here are a little better than with the turd-fest that was Killing Skill. Don't get me wrong -- this is still a pretty generic movie, but at least it won't bore you to tears.

Since I'm sure most of you out there know the plot from Heat, I won't go into details here, since T.H.E. Professionals follows Mann's movie exactly, right down to specific lines. Now, I bet some of you out there are thinking that a Hong Kong remake of one of the best US heist movies ever might actually be a great thing. And in a way, you'd be right.

Director Wilson Tong (who also handled the action director duties) certainly puts some effective pyrotechnics on display here, especially during the climatic bank robbery. Sure, we're not talking Hard Boiled levels of gunplay here, but what Tong gives the audience in the action department is certainly exciting enough.

But it's really what Tong does not give the viewer that makes T.H.E. Professionals ultimately just another Hong Kong crime movie. This "remake" (or however you want to view it) runs at about half of the time of the original, and most of the cuts come at the cost of characterization.

Tong seems to forget that what made Heat stand out from other heist pictures is that Michael Mann created sympathy for the characters, no matter how flawed they might have been.

And when you're depending on actors to create deep and believeable characters in a short period of time, they'd better be up to the task. Norman Chu does a good enough job, but he's no Robert DeNiro -- and to even put Louis Koo in the same universe acting-wise as Al Pacino is an exercise in insanity.

As for the other main actors, Elvis Tsui (in Tom Sizemore's role) and Simon Lui (fufilling Val Kilmer's duties) do as much as they can with what little they have to work with, but ultimately their characters feel hollow because they just seem to be following crime movie cliches.

Despite its' problems, T.H.E. Professionals is probably still worth a viewing for the Hong Kong action junkies out there. Aside from the curiosity factor of seeing a Chinese take on a US movie, the action scenes are done well enough to keep your attention.

It might not be the best movie out there, but if you're not too picky, T.H.E. Professionals makes for a decent ninety minutes of brainless viewing material.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/25/2002
Summary: Heat? What's that? :D

Not sure why it's "T.H.E" rather than plain old "The" - perhaps to suggest that these are the only real professionals, and all the others were just amateur professionals or something. T.H.E Professionals are a gang of robbers who open the movie by robbing a security van for some bonds. One of the gang get's a little bit twitchy and shoots a guard, after which the gang have to kill all the rest to cover their tracks. They then disappear off to Mainland China. Louis Koo is also a professional - a work-obsessed cop, to be precisely. He heads of to China to track them down. The only information they have is that one of the gang is called "Bill". Don't know how they found that out, but luckily it's enough for them to narrow down their search from 1.2 billion people to... one. And to identify the rest of the gang by association. The gang is led by Norman Chu, and besides Bill has Simon Loui and Elvis Tsui as it's members.

A remarkable piece of sleuthing, which just leaves Louis and his mainland partner the job of catching the bad guys. There's a little bit of "Oh we're partners but we hate each other" between the cops, but thankfully it isn't given much time. The movie instead spends most of the time developing the characters - attempting to give equal development to both the good guys and the bad guys, which is a nice idea. Norman & Louis get the most time, and it's one of those "we're both professionals, we respect each other, but we happen to be on opposite sides of the law" situations.

That's probably more plot synopsis than the movie deserves, as there's little here that doesn't adhere to some convention or charicature. It's quite a solid movie (a few glaring implausibilities like the speed-sleuthing and the cops happily opening fire with machine guns in a crowded area aside), but doesn't really contain anything that's new, and doesn't develop its elements to an unusual degree either. Director Wilson Tong obviously has a higher budget here than in his 1995 classic GHOSTLY BUS, but $$$ does not buy creativity as we all know.

There's some nicely staged shoot-outs (in a realistic manner), though I had trouble buying Norman, Simon and Elvis as machine-gun weilding professionals. Performances are so-so, probably suffering from the fact that almost nobody appears to have been dubbed with their own voice (Elvis being most notably wrong because of this). The movie is a competently made cops & robbers thriller with medium-low production values, pleasant and interesting to watch, but breaking little to no new ground. Don't really know if I recommend it or not :-/

Reviewed by: Fazeo
Date: 12/18/2001
Summary: Horrid film!

This film is a scene by scene and sometimes line by line rip-off of Michael Mann's HEAT. Wow a hyper fast cool HK remake of HEAT sounds neat right? Wrong. This film is a disgrace and I can't believe the makers of the film haven't been sued for totally ripping off HEAT.

The writing(if it isn't cribbed lines from HEAT) is awful, the acting is tired and weak, and the action scenes are horribly directed, I swear I've seen home movies with better action choreography.

The only reason to watch this film is to see how far they go in copying HEAT, you'll sit there in utter amazement like I did when every scene plays out just like in HEAT. Sure there may be one or two differences in the film, but I'd say 90% of the film is a total carbon copy of HEAT.

Watch at your own risk, I saw it for free on the International Channel and I still feel cheated.

I give this film a Bomb rating.*

*I use Leonard Maltin's 4 star ratings system.

Reviewed by: Fatty
Date: 08/01/2001
Summary: hmmmmm...I remember this film!

It's been awhile since I've seen this film, all I can remember is a shootout involving the cops and three robbers shooting everyone up. That part ruled, but some how reminded me of other movies, but oh well it looked cool, plus the music was kinda lame, but worked good for a movie like this.

Hell, I don't even know if I'm talking about the right movie, but oh well I can get away with it...ummm, probably not *hangs his head down in shame*

6.5/10 for that shootout

this so called review of a movie has been brought to you by Fatty

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 08/22/2000
Summary: T.H.E. biggest piece of crap ever

Yeah this movie had NO redeeming value whatsoever. You take the plot of "Heat", take out the great acting, the action sequences, the big budget, the great sprawling story, and this is what you have. I'm surprised I wasted enough time writing this review, but it's late and I'm bored.