J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Adventurers: Andy Lau Steals His Way Across Europe

Evidently, French prisons are so hot at rehabilitation either. To be fair, this Hong Kong jewel thief was primed for recidivism. He was caught stealing part of the priceless “Gaia” three-piece necklace set. To find the villain who betrayed him, he will need the other two pieces. He will also commit crimes against the English language, but his French copper nemesis sounds nearly as awkward in Stephen Fung’s breezy The Adventurers (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Dan Zhang is an old school Thomas Crowne kind of jewel thief, who was planning on going straight after the big score that sent him up the river. With a few loyal accomplices and “Red” Ye, a hotshot new recruit, Zhang plans to take the other two pieces of Gaia. The first outstanding component-piece has been put up for charity auction in Paris by Tingting, a Chinese celebrity animal lover. Ironically, Red will whip up the animal rights protestors against her, over her alleged fur wardrobe, to cover-up the caper unfolding.

That will be the easy heist, even though it is in Bissette’s backyard. The hard one will be the third piece of Gaia, nestled in a vault within a castle outside Prague, owned by a nouveau riche Chinese oligarch. His security is state-of-tomorrow’s-art, but Zhang has Red. However, Bissette also has his own surprise ally, Amber Li, the art expert who authenticated the original fateful piece of Gaia, who happened to be engaged to Zhang at the time. Unaware of his true profession, she also felt slightly betrayed by the events that transpired.

Despite the fractured syntax, The Adventurers is cheerful throwback to old fashioned caper movies. Yes, there are all kinds of double- and triple-crosses going on, but it is still a genuinely low stress affair. It is all about exotic locales (Paris, Prague, Kiev), cat burglar stunts and gizmos, and a ridiculously attractive cast (Andy Lau, Shu Qi, Zhang Jingchu, You Tianyi, and probably Tony Yo-ning Yang counts too), plus bonus character actors Jean Reno and Eric Tsang.

If you enjoy watching Raffles-like characters shimmying across ledges and illuminating motion sensor-lasers, then The Adventurers is your cup of General Foods International Coffee. As Zhang, Lau has his on-screen charm cranked up to eleven. Shu Qi enjoys playing against type as the mercenary femme fatale Red, but Zhang Jingchu might actually outshine everyone as the sensitive but cerebral Li. Of course, Reno and Tsang do their thing as Det. Bissette and Zhang’s “uncle” fence, King Kong.

The Adventurers probably will not make it onto very many awards ballots, but it will be fifty times more entertaining to re-watch than Crash, American Beauty, or Titanic. It is a fun, sparkly film that goes down easy and leaves you with a desire to visit Prague with Shu Qi or Andy Lau. Recommended as pleasant “Summer Friday” matinee, The Adventurers opens this Friday (8/18) in New York, at the Regal E-Walk.

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