Computer nerds chase international terrorists in “2000 AD,” an enjoyable, sometimes impressive actioner that, following “Purple Storm,” reps Hong Kong-based Media Asia’s second big-bucks assault on the market in the past six months. Helmer Gordon Chan brings a fresh feel to many of the action sequences, but Western auds may start consulting their watches during the Canto-comic first half-hour. Trimming by 10 minutes would make this a solid performer in Western vid markets.
Going head to head over Chinese New Year with two other actioners, Golden Harvest’s “Tokyo Raiders” and China Star’s “The Duel,” pic ended up in third place with HK$13.7 million ($1.75 million), less than half the haul of “Raiders” but an advance on last year’s “Purple Storm.” In many respects, the grittier, more propulsive “Storm” is superior to “2000 AD.”
After an impressive opening, in which terrorist Kevin (Andrew Lin) blows an airliner out of the sky above Singapore, pace slackens as story shifts to Hong Kong, where two penniless techies, Peter (pop idol Aaron Kwok) and Benny (Daniel Wu), are joined by Peter’s brother, Greg (Ray Lui), who’s on the run from Singapore as a suspect in the bombing. This long section, with much larking around, is a prime candidate for shortening.
Confused plotting finally clicks into gear at the 30-minute point with an astounding action sequence outside a multistory garage, in which a car carrying Greg from interrogation by the authorities is riddled by a sniper. Visceral and punchy, with a genuinely claustrophobic feel, the sequence segues into an exciting chase on foot down the island’s Mid-Levels as Peter chases the gunman.
Throughout the movie, Chan is clearly more interested in trying new approaches to action sequences rather than just piling on the f/x and artillery. As the plot shifts back to Singapore, and Peter and Benny hook up with the mysterious Salina (Singapore TV star Phyllis Quek, highly charismatic), the movie develops palpable tension as character and stunts go hand in hand.
Kwok makes a major effort to overcome his pretty-boy image but isn’t quite up to carrying a movie of this scale, especially with Wu reduced to sidekick. Central half-hour is effectively stolen by actor Francis Ng, as a weary, hard-assed H.K. cop; he completely overshadows the less experienced cast.
Action director Yuen Tak cleverly manages to get round most of the restrictions on shooting in Singapore, though the movie lacks a properly grand finale to cap things off. Blending Hong Kong and Singaporean acting styles, especially in English, is a problem that still remains to be solved by East Asian filmers.