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Downtown Torpedoes
|     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |
    

From left to right: Theresa Lee, Jordan Chan, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Charlie Young.
Chinese: 神偷諜影  
Year: 1997  
Director: Teddy Chan Tak-Sum  
Producer: David Chan Sek-Hong
Writer: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung
Action: Stephen Tung Wai  
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Charlie Young Choi-Nei, Theresa Lee Yi-Hung, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Alex Fong Chung-Sun
The Skinny: Western-style action picture uses cool action sequences to entertain despite a paper-thin plot and non-existent characterization.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Hong Kongís answer to Mission: Impossible is a slight action-thriller thatís carried out professionally and commercially. Jackal (Takeshi Kaneshiro), Cash (Jordan Chan) and Sam (Charlie Young) form the core of ATM (Available Tactical Mercenaries), an industrial espionage unit that utilizes high-tech gadgetry to steal technology and fence it on the black market. However, they're blackmailed by the Hong Kong government (led by Alex Fong Chung-Sun) to snatch some counterfeit plates called SN2 from the British MI5. Naturally stuff goes wrong, our heroes are framed for SN2ís disappearance, and then they must set about clearing their names with whatever hi-tech gadgets they have leftover.

Directed in glossy fashion by Teddy Chan, the film works thanks to Stephen Tungís action sequences, which possess a flair and energy sorely lacking in recent Hong Kong films. However, the storytelling is virtually soulless. Almost no character exists, which is both a positive and a negative: the film never pauses for any soul-reaching angst, thus quickening the plotís pace. On the other hand, lack of character means that the little touches (Kaneshiro and Young's budding romance, and the friendship between the two male leads) donít hit home. The result is almost mechanical, but itís a well-oiled machine that glosses over its own faults as effortlessly as it entertains.

Of all the actors, Jordan Chan fares best. Takeshi Kaneshiro holds his own, but he operates best when his characters are quirky, which the underwritten Jackal most definitely is not. As usual, Charlie Young is likeable, but uncompelling. Theresa Lee does too little, which is a shame because her usual promise is left untapped. You can't really fault any of the actors as they had very little to work with originally. Teddy Chan and Stephen Tung shore up whatever rough edges (and there are a lot of them) are left, and they do a nice job of it. This is easily the most polished-looking Hong Kong film in recent memory. As a commercial film, this is a solid actioner, but it could have been a lot better. (Kozo 1997)

 
Notes: • Downtown Torpedoes can largely be considered the father of the modern HK action film. By "modern HK action film" we mean a Western-influenced action-thriller that's more concerned with glossy superficiality than actual nuts-and-bolts action. For its time, Torpedoes was a fair, even laudable effort, but if it were released today it would likely be seen as complete and total crap. (Kozo 2002)
Awards: 17th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Action Design (Stephen Tung Wai)
• Winner - Best Sound Effects
• Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Theresa Lee Yi-Hung)
• Nomination - Best New Artist (Ken Wong Hap-Hei)
• Nomination - Best Cinematography (Cheung Man-Biu)
• Nomination - Best Editing (Kwong Chi-Leung, Cheung Fung-Fai)
• Nomination - Best Art Direction (Ma Poon-Chiu, Mak Gwok-Keung)
• Nomination - Best Costume Design (Dora Ng Lei-Lo)
• Nomination - Best Original Score (Peter Kam Pui-Tat)
• Nomination - Best Editing (Kwong Chi-Leung, Cheung Fung-Fai)
 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd.

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