Tophat has become our resident action movie critic but since he finds foreign films pretentious and confusing looks like I’ll have to take the wheel on this one. It’s an exciting little number from Hong Kong called 2000 A.D. It is completely devoid of pretensions and is no more confusing than Die Hard II, and come to think of it I think Tophat mostly hates European movies but never the less. Remember when everybody thought the Y2k bug was a trendy way to make people afraid of the power of computers? No? Well do you remember the plot from Live Free or Die Hard? No? Why are we friends again? Anyway, all you need to know is computers can be used for evil and stuff. And remember a vintage 10 pound laptop “can do more damage than an atomic bomb.” Not including the damage from the exploding battery. Oh wait. That was a cellphone. Was it a Nokia? Anyway, throw in some, earlier movie spoiler alert, motivation to avenge a dead brother and you got yourself a movie.
But wait. We have to start the movie with a few fight scenes scrapped off the Top Gun cutting room floor for some reason. Because jet fighters bought at the Cold War surplus store are still cool to see zooming around at mach something or other. The planes serve as a way to do a mildly interesting credit sequence while emphasizing the idea that wars of the 21st century won’t be openly declared and won’t be fought with guns, but computer bombs. Uh huh. Luckily the movie spends more time on gun fights and martial arts than hacker mumbo jumbo. Stick with what you know.
In fact the action sequences are quite well done. The gun play and martial arts flow together seamlessly in an unemphasized, anti-Hollywood way that allows the excitement to flow continuously. None of that Matrix emphasis on special moves or effects, just fighting and dying served up medium rare. Well, maybe medium. The violence isn’t overtly graphic. This isn’t Kill Bill. Although, the use of color during the fight scenes is slightly reminiscent of Tarantino which leads me to believe it is typical of the genre.
So let’s recap. Good action scenes, check. Confusing or unrealistic plot, check. We’re well on our way. What surprised me most about the film was the fact that the actors, particularly leading men Aaron Kwok and James Lye, are not better known actors. Kwok transitions from a young, care-free nerd to a cold-blooded fighter extremely well and he moves with all the grace and speed of Jackie Chan. Perhaps he lacks Chan’s personality. At least he’s still making movies. Lye is some sort of bank executive in Singapore. Sure, he’s probably providing for his family extremely well. But he is a talented actor with a remarkable face. Using the dictionary definition of remarkable if you please. None of this synonym for “awesome” bologna.
I’ve always been told that Hong Kong is a hot bed for killer action movies. Of course a great number of them stared Bruce Lee, whose works I’ve been meaning to digest, so maybe that’s a good place to start. Although really, 2000 A.D. is better than your average Saturday afternoon at the movies fare. It certainly blows Die Hard II out of the water. But to be honest the only thing worse than Die Hard II is every Steven Seagal movie ever made ever, so that bar might be a little on the low side. The funny thing is I ended up watching this movie because I was looking for a Tshirt worn by Roy in the Facebook episode. “She looked like the Joker!”