Hong Kong Cinema

Seoul Raiders

seoul raiders
  • Made: 2005
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: PAL Reg 2
  • Release Date: Feb 27 2006
  • Company: Hong Kong Legends
  • Length: 94 mins
  • Picture: Widescreen 16:9 Anamorphic
  • Sound: DD 5.1 / DTS
  • Language: Cantonese with English subtitles
  • Extras: Featurettes, interview with Jingle Ma, trailers
  • Classification: 12


Jingle Ma


Tony Leung, Shu Qi, Richie Ren

Seoul Raiders - Tony Leung Chiu Wai needs no introduction. An international star in his own right, Tony Leung is huge in Hong Kong. His versatility, helped by his combination of charm and undeniable acting ability, has seen him star in classic Hong Kong action flicks such as Woo's Bullet in the Head and Hard Boiled alongside art-house classics under the direction of Wong Kar Wai. He is possibly best known on the international scene thanks to Hero and 2046. Just by visiting this site it is likely you have enjoyed many of Tony's films already, but I'm afraid Seoul Raiders isn't worth adding to the list. Let's just say that whilst other Hong Kong directors have made less than stellar entries into cinematic history after venturing stateside, Jingle Ma has the dubious honour of bringing us the big screen outing of Mr. Magoo.


Leung plays Lam Kwai Yan, a professional thief-slash-spy on an assignment to recover American dollar counterfeiting plates. During his mission he is disturbed by the pixieish cat burglar JJ (Shu Qi - Gorgeous), who also seeks the funny money plates. After dealing with some standard henchmen, Lam escapes with the goods despite JJ's attempts to trick him. However, on delivering the plates to the US Embassy, Lam finds himself drugged by the rogue CIA operative Owen (Richie Ren) who skips off to Korea to meet Polar Bear (a contact in the Korean underworld). Irritated by his tarnished reputation, Lam sets off for Seoul to track down Owen with the help of his three lovely Korean assistants and JJ tagging along behind. Fights, chases, double-crossing and the wearing of swish clothes ensue.


Seoul Raiders is the kind of light-hearted action comedy Hong Kong has been churning out for decades. An attractive cast in attractive wardrobes, flying off to exotic cities to have mild fights; this is more-or-less a sequel to Jingle Ma's Tokyo Raiders. Unfortunately it bears more of a resemblance to Silver Hawk, all flash without substance. The sets are shiny and expansive but sterile. Lam's three inexplicable eye-candy assistants are given little to do and the fight sequences are plagued by obvious cuts and shadows attempting to conceal the use of stunt-doubles for the more demanding action. The lack of conviction in the plot with everything tongue-in-cheek isn't supported by solid enough gags.

Even the music rings false being a blatant rip off of Tomoyasu Hotei's "Battles Without Honour And Humanity" from the Kinji Fukasaku yakuza pic of the same name (and more recently used in Kill Bill). Perhaps worst of all, the traditional grand finale seems like a scene that worked much better on paper. It's not all bad as there are moments of fun and the odd good joke, the subway scene and JJ cross-dressing being particular highlights, but as a whole the film lacks thrills and excitement.


The usual Hong Kong Legends flair for extras seems to have been affected by the calibre of the film, but we still are treated to a fair amount of material to back up the feature. The 'Seoul Girls' featurettes follow the ladies of Seoul Raiders as they hang out in Seoul, shopping, eating, drinking and such. The Making Of also consists of smaller features looking behind the scenes and interviewing the three stars, as light and fluffy as the main feature, and similarly not very filling. Deleted scenes are those that have obviously been cut for time, giving the characters a little room to breathe but that are not necessary for telling the story. The interview with Jingle Ma is the most substantial, giving more of an insight of how he came up with the idea and the production process and as a result is much more worthy of a watch. Along with trailers and a promotional art gallery, the extras clock in at about an hour. Unsurprisingly, for a film shot last year, the visuals are of a decent standard and there is a DTS audio track for those with the set-up, though you may not want to enhance the cheesy score.


Tony Leung is always charming, and Seoul Raiders is by no means bad but it does suffer from being very average, having nothing to offer above dozens of similar films. Even for Leung fans, randomly sticking a pin in his back catalogue is more likely to lead you to better things. This is the kind of film that Jackie, Sammo and Yuen perfected twenty years ago in their "3 brothers" films and you'd do well to seek out any of those instead.