2000 A.D. (2000) Review

"2000 A.D." Chinese Theatrical Poster

"2000 A.D." Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Gordon Chan
Writer: Gordon Chan, Stu Zicherman
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Daniel Wu, Gigi Choi, Phyllis Quek, Ray Lui, Francis Ng, Andrew Lien, Ken Lo, Tony Ho
Running Time: 104 min.

By Raging Gaijin

Everything about this film suggests it was tailor made to be a big pan-Asian hit: it has a nondescript millennial title, a big budget put to use with some questionable CGI, locations around the continent, popstar Aaron Kwok in the lead role, and workmanlike director Gordon Chan behind the camera. Oh, yeah, and a very clear anti-US attitude. Unfortunately, the result is about as homogenized as you would expect. Despite some stellar action, as a whole “2000 A.D.” never rises above competent.

The plot is nearly indecipherable. There’s some kind of computer virus that can disrupt the stock exchange and it’s been stolen by a rogue CIA agent. In pursuit of the virus are some other shadowy government types and deadly assassins. Caught in the middle is plucky computer programmer Aaron Kwok. Needless to say, if you’re expecting an engaging story you’ll be disappointed. This is muddled at best.

Aaron Kwok is a decent actor when kept to a supporting or co-starring role (“Saviour of the Soul”, “Storm Riders”). However, “2000 A.D.” proves that he doesn’t quite have what it takes to shoulder an entire movie. He’s just too benign. You don’t get the sense that there’s a personality behind his good looks. He’s suitable in the action sequences but in the dramatic portions of the film he is clearly lacking. Aaron Kwok is in over his head trying to anchor this movie and it shows.

So what saves “2000 A.D.”? Two words: Francis Ng. He delivers another in a long line of stand-out performances. He’s nothing less than one of Hong Kong’s best character actors. Here he imbues a generic cop role with a rounded persona of dignity and strength. His performance isn’t showy at all, simply reserved, and the movie is all the better for it. Every time he’s on screen “2000 A.D.” comes to life.

The other saving grace is the action scenes. While not plentiful, they are well-done. They’re not all that over-the-top or in your face, just very immediate and violent. Much blood is shed and characters you might not expect to die do end up biting the bullet. Kudos to Gordon Chan for not holding back on the violence, even in a big-budget mainstream picture like this. Action fans will certainly be satisfied with the mayhem that unfolds.

“2000 A.D.” fits the bare minimum requirements of an entertaining film. A hackneyed plot involving computer viruses and an untested lead actor threaten to sink this ship but, just when you think the movie sucks, Francis Ng shows up or another action scene lights up the screen. You could do worse than “2000 A.D.” for a night’s entertainment but don’t set your hopes too high. This is a passable action movie; I just expect a little more from Hong Kong.

Raging Gaijin’s Rating: 6/10

By Numskull

The title of this movie is rather deceptive…it’s not about some Y2K bug or other such catastrophe waiting to be sprung on the world at the point at which most people thought the new millennium began (it was actually January 1st, 2001, whether you want to believe it or not). Lots of computers, but nobody mentions what year it is. Maybe they were trying to capitalize on millennium fever…

Anyway, this is a film that starts out dull but gets a hell of a lot better if you give it a chance. The first half hour is very boring, and I remained unconvinced that I should give a shit about any of the characters. But in due time the bullets start flying, the blood starts splattering, and there is some good hand-to-hand fighting…something too many action films lack these days. The shootouts and fights are handled in a very down-to-earth manner. No super-charged music, no flashy camera angles, no absurd heroics. Just sudden violence. The protagonists don’t valiantly do battle because it’s the right thing to do; they deal with it because they have no choice. I like it.

The cast is well-rounded, with no performances standing out as particularly excellent or suckworthy. Aaron Kwok eventually wins you over as the hapless everyman who gets thrust into extraordinary circumstances, newcomer Gigi Choi is reasonably likable as his girlfriend, and Phyllis Quek ably portrays a mysterious spy-type woman. Most guys will have a hard time taking their eyes off of her.

The story is fairly convoluted, with more than a few characters to keep track of. That’s good, but the general interest level isn’t particularly high. Also, the ending is pretty lame. As in many, MANY other HK movies it is very abrupt and gives you the feeling that the writers didn’t have a clue what to do after the primary conflict is resolved.

Not bad, not bad. Nice to see an HK action movie where the main heroes and villains aren’t your usual cops and robbers. A decent film to watch to get away from the endless chop-socky stuff that Asian cinema is synonymous with here in the west.

Numskull’s Rating: 7/10

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