Seoul Raiders is the sequel to director Jingle Ma's hugely successful blockbuster Tokyo Raiders. Tony Leung reprises his role as Japanese special agent Lam, this time on an intricate search for a pair of "Avenger" plates used for the making of counterfeit U.S. currency. During the hunt, he comes across foxy lady JJ (Shu Qi), and US Embassy staff member Owen (Richie Jen), who manages to con the plates out of Lam and flee to Korea. Lam and JJ immediately follow Owen to Korea, only to be confronted by the legendary kingpin known as Polar Bear, the head of the largest counterfeit organization in Asia...
I went into this film looking forward to a no-brainer action film with lots of gadgets and maybe even quite a few explosions. That is roughly what my memory of its predecessor Tokyo Raiders is like, and it was a decent film, so hoping for more of the same wasn't too much to ask for I think. Something went wrong this time though. Nothing in the whole film really gels well and as a result the final product is nothing more than average.
The action scenes do not exhilarate and in places look very B-movie esque. The pace of the action isn't fast, there are no proper thrills and everything just seems tame. Fighting doubles are occasionally quite evident during the fights, but when they are the fighting is a notch or two higher in entertainment value. When the fighting doubles are not being used there isn't quite as much life in what you're seeing on screen. Tony Leung does manage some nice moves, but he's not a proper martial artist and at times this shows.
Acting wise I was a little disappointed. I hold Tony Leung in the highest regard for his acting ability, but with such a cheesy, commercial film in Seoul Raiders he is never given a chance to prove what he can do, and his character doesn't help. The performance appears really hammy whereas I think something that made his character seem cooler would have been far better. Richie Jen fares no better and if anything is actually quite annoying. He starts well when we first meet him, but afterwards and especially when he starts to become attracted to Shu Qi's JJ, he is a goofy idiot! He was good in Breaking News but in Seoul Raiders I won't be remembering him for anything good. This does the film no service at all, bringing it down a level or two.
Where Seoul Raiders does shine though is in the female department. There are four women in the film, three of which are Lam's Korean assistants and the other is Shu Qi as JJ. They are all hot and at times skimpily dressed - an obvious plus point! It is not quite worth seeing the film just for them, but if you are going to watch it, they certainly make it more pleasing on the eye.
This is probably one of my shortest reviews to date as I just can't think of anything else to say about Seoul Raiders. It is not a patch on my memory of Tokyo Raiders, at times it is quite boring as I've seen so many other better action films. Some of the humour is out of place and simply not funny, while other bits only manage a slight smirk. It is simply a run of the mill film.
Audio & Subtitles
With a choice of DD 5.1 or DTS soundtracks I watched the film in DTS mode. The sound was probably the best thing about the film. The surrounds are used frequently and effectively and the bass booms in all the right places.
The subtitles are of as equally a high standard. I didn't notice any grammar or spelling errors at all.
Being quite a recent film and it being released by Hong Kong Legends, as expected Seoul Raiders looks the business. The colours are bold and well saturated, there wasn't much in the way of graininess to the print and the detail level looked very good. Quite happily impressed with it!
DVD & Extras
Typical to HKL releases, there are a number of different extras to choose from. First up there is a Promotional Gallery, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Then there is the most informative of all the extras - Seoul Girls: A Travelogue. This is a series of 2 minute features on different aspects of Korean life and culture. From a westerners point of view I found this very interesting and it certainly painted Seoul in a good light! Then there is a Making Of... which is like the Seoul Girls section is a series of short features. They are decent enough to watch but nothing too amazing. You've got an interview with Jingle Ma, some deleted scenes, trailers and promotional art to round off the package. A nice little selection on the whole.
Seoul Raiders is an immensely average film. It doesn't live up to its predecessor and fails to excite on most levels. Nothing is bad in the film (except maybe some of the acting or scriptwriting), but nothing is really that good.