2000 AD is one of a rash of relatively high-budget actioners that came out of Hong Kong over the last few years, but there are a few things that set this one a tad above most.
For starters, there’s the casting. Fairly attractive and high-profile leads in Aaron Kwok and Daniel Wu mean that the characters are reasonably well-executed, and provide sufficient eye candy. Both are also quite credible in the action department, being disgustingly fit and athletic.
Then there’s the support cast, also fairly credible. In particular, Francis Ng Chun Yu is dazzling: I actually went out and bought this film, not because it’s particularly memorable, but because it has one of Francis’ finest scenes ever. He’s playing a cop, intelligent and capable, and is telling a cluster of CIA dudes why they can’t just have their way with a suspect: “This is Hong Kong, China. You fill out a few forms…” May not sound much, but you have to see it for the full glorious Francis impact. The whole film is worth it just for those few lines, in my admittedly biased opinion.
The film is also blessed with the talents of Ken Lo. Not a great actor, but by golly he’s good with his legs. And there’s a chase and fight scene between Lo and Kwok that’s bound to get the pulses racing. There’s nothing I like better than a pair of healthy men trying to beat the crap out of each other. Well, almost nothing.
In terms of special effects, there’s also a very memorable explosion: a car blows up, overturns, and crashes onto another car. The shot from the point of view of the occupants, where we see the flaming wreck headed for us at speed, is damned effective.
I’ve got to say, though, that the software side of things leaves something to be desired. Perhaps it’s because I’m in the field myself, but it seems that most films that have any pretensions to computer wizardry are made by people with absolutely no knowledge. Maybe you won’t even notice that, but I always see these things and get cranky. I just wish someone would make a more realistic film about dangerous software: say, exposing the very real, and very dangerous, aspects of a certain immensely popular software house that is a household word. You know, the one noted for its frequent ‘Security Bulletins’. Now, there’s irony for you.
Overall, though, it’s a very watchable entrant in the genre, and if it’s a tad uninspired, well, it’s an uninspired genre in the main. And it’s got handsome men giving each other a kicking, secret machinations and covert organisations, death, explosions, and dangerous software. What more can you ask from an actioner?