Tony Leung Chiu-wai steals what little limelight there is in “Seoul Raiders,” a follow-up to 2000 hit “Tokyo Raiders” with a script that seems to have been dashed off on the plane between Hong Kong and South Korea. Seriocomic action hijinks, with various parties chasing after some high-quality counterfeit plates, pass the time agreeably but with little pizzazz, making this Media Asia production only of ancillary interest to Asian buffs. Locally, the February release scraped about a quarter of the original’s peppy HK$28 million ($3.5 million).
Leung encores as smooth p.i. Lam Gwai-yan, surrounded this time by babelicious Korean assistants. Lam needs to rescue his rep by recovering stolen counterfeit dollar plates in danger of falling into Arab terrorists’ hands. He pursues thief Owen Lee (Richie Ren) to Seoul, where Lee plans to sell the plates to middleman Black Bear (James Kim). Also in the mix is freelance female thief JJ (Shu Qi), whose true agenda, like everyone else’s, is kept hazy till the finale.
With its multiple languages, mix of stars and (for no discernible plot reason) Seoul setting, pic is clearly designed as a pan-Asian production cashing in on the current craze for things Korean. But from the thin script to the so-so action sequences, there’s a general air of haste and lack of coin compared with the classier original, produced by Golden Harvest. Clean-lined Seoul, here bathed in cold wintry light, isn’t the most atmospheric of locations.
Most of the enjoyment comes from the laid-back perfs, especially Leung’s cool private eye who hates to have his hair mussed. Of the rest of the cast, Kim has his moments as buttoned-up psycho Black Bear, while Shu Qi, as happens so often, looks like she’s just dropped by for some fun.