Tokyo Raiders

(Dong Jing Gong Lue)

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Details At A Glance

Category Action - Hong Kong style Dolby Digital Trailer - City
Theatrical Trailer - 1.85:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:09)
Featurette - The Making Of (20:40)
Year Released 2000
Running Time 96:08 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (69:29)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Jingle Ma
Golden Harvest 
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Starring Tony Leung
Ekin Cheng
Kelly Chen
Toru Nakamura
Hiroshi Abe
Kumiko Endo
Minami Shirakawa
Majyu Ozawa
Cecilia Cheung
Case Transparent Soft Brackley
RPI $36.95 Music Peter Kam

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1?
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Ah, this takes me back to the good old days! Well, not exactly this film, but rather the genre if you will. Those days just after leaving university when I tried to eke out an existence as a commodity broker in Hong Kong. Mediocre pay reduced to nothing by rent and public transport costs, such that the food budget catered for Aussie corn beef and bread ad infinitum and entertainment consisted of occasional splurges at high priced Wanchai nightclubs courtesy of the boss (the only way we could afford the high class girls of such establishments) or cheap tickets to a seemingly endless parade of Hong Kong action films. Mind you, the action was generally not on the screens - you would be amazed by what goes on in the cheap seats in Hong Kong cinemas. But at least it was a mindless diversion - and you did occasionally get to watch some of what was going on up there on the big screen. And so one of my abiding joys from my time as an unsuccessful commodity broker in Hong Kong was a passion for the lousy films made there. Cheap as chips with all the production values of a McDonald's hamburger - and about as ubiquitous.

    Okay, so times have changed a little and the budgets have gotten a little larger and the production values have risen a tad. But at the end of the film, they are so unashamedly Hong Kong action films that you cannot help but love them. No need to worry about searing depth to the plots as there was rarely a plot. No need to worry about quality of acting as it was usually pretty ropey, since the main aim of the film was as much ludicrous action as could be reasonably packed into 90 minutes using the minimum amount of money as possible. And to be blunt, lots of extremely attractive women. Guess what? You just got a description of Tokyo Raiders, Hong Kong action of the (almost) new millennium!

    This incarnation of the Hong Kong action film is a tad unusual - it is shot predominately in Japan and includes a fair chunk of Japanese unless my ears deceive me (although I will admit that my knowledge of Cantonese is very ropey despite residing in the former colony for four months). The prologue to the film is a nifty bit of martial arts fighting featuring Len (Tony Leung) doing a whole bunch of ridiculous stuff. The basic story of the film, though, is of beautiful Macy (Kelly Chen), left standing at the altar of one of those cheap quickie wedding chapels in Las Vegas. Her fiancé Takahashi (Toru Nakamura) simply did not turn up. Returning to Hong Kong, she is wandering around their apartment when their interior decorator Yung (Ekin Cheng) turns up looking for payment. Macy decides to head off to Japan to find her fiancé and lo and behold but who joins her at the airport? Yep, her interior decorator. Cue their arrival in Tokyo and the pair head to Takahashi's apartment only to find it empty - apart from some rather nasty men from a Yakuza headed by Ito (Hiroshi Abe). They want to find Takahashi too, but probably for a different reason than Macy and Yung. After some more action, the pair are rescued by the even more stunningly gorgeous Saori (Cecilia Cheung - I promise to stop drooling in a minute), who then delivers them to - Len. Things are of course not all that they seem. It turns out that Takahashi is a very popular fellow, as everyone seems to want to get him. The chase is on to find the gentleman - hopefully with the love-struck Macy leading the way. Oh, Len has a nice little collection of beauties as his assistants (Kumiko Endo, Minami Shirakawa and Majyu Ozawa) to keep the male interest level high - I mean who watches these films for the unbelievable action scenes?

    On the meter reading for quality screenplays, this would hardly rate above average, but that at least makes it more interesting than The Matrix (a blatant Hong Kong film rip-off with Hollywood money excesses thrown at it). You also would not be watching this for the terrific acting, of which there is sadly very little. I mean, Kelly Chen might be a very good looking woman, but most of her role is so annoying that you feel like wringing a teddy bear's neck (well you would not want to wring Kelly's neck, she is too good looking). In other words, pretty much your prototypical leading lady in a Hong Kong film. The male cast are not much better acting-wise, but at least they get to strut their stuff in the action sequences, and these are worth the price of admission alone. Whilst most of the stuff is fairly typically way-over-the-top stuff, for pure mindless entertainment it is brilliant stuff. Good looking women, great action sequences, corny lines, hackneyed chase sequences, pointless and inexplicable explosions (just how often has a chase ended with the car/truck/motorbike/boat/whatever running slap bang into a huge pile of petrol or other flammable material stored in the most inexplicable place possible?) - hey, this film has it all. What more could you want? Directing? Well, don't look here. Cinematography? Let that one pass through to the keeper.

    It is certainly not classic cinema, but this sort of stuff you can watch for hours. Ninety minutes of pure, unadulterated mindless entertainment - you have got to love it!

Transfer Quality


    Well it may come from Columbia TriStar, but I doubt even their magic could overcome the fact that the source material is from Hong Kong and in many ways demonstrates the fairly typical appearance of a Hong Kong film. I am guessing that we have here about as good a transfer as could be mustered from the source material, but no doubt someone who has seen the film theatrically (has it even had a theatrical release in Australia?) would be able to point out that this is a completely false supposition.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. I am presuming that this is the correct theatrical ratio even though the Internet Movie Database lists it as being 2.35:1. However, conclusive evidence at this time is a bit difficult to track down.

    Whilst I would like to be able to rave about a typical Columbia TriStar transfer job here, I simply cannot. The main issue for me is that the transfer is just a little on the diffuse side at times and never really demonstrates any great sharpness to the image. Whilst I certainly would have expected this from a Hong Kong film from twenty years ago, I am a bit surprised to see it now. With the overall look of the transfer being on the diffuse side, the detail also suffers a little. Shadow detail is generally acceptable although there is one sequence around the 17:00 mark which really is quite poor. Clarity is generally pretty good, but not as good as we would expect in a one year old film. There appears to be some light graininess through some portions of the film. There did not appear to be any low level noise problems in the transfer.

    Colours are not especially vibrant and are in general on the softer side of the palette. The big disappointment for me is the fact that the night-time scenes of (presumably) Tokyo, which have plenty of neon advertising signs, just lack sparkle. Overall the palette is quite natural, it is just that the lack of vibrancy and sparkle at times does detract. There is generally nothing in the way of oversaturation here, although the red opening credits display the trademark Hong Kong oversaturation and slight bleed that I have seen so many times. Blacks are not especially terrific and it would perhaps have aided the whole film if there was a bit more depth to the colours throughout. There did not appear to be any colour bleed issues in the transfer other than in the opening credits.

    There were some hints of MPEG artefacts during some panning sequences, with a loss of resolution being quite common. It is nothing outrageous, and is probably a reflection of source material limitations. There was not much in the way of film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, with just a few instances of aliasing making their presence felt at times (around the 40:00 and 62:00 minute marks are the sort of stuff to expect). Somewhat surprisingly, there were some rather obvious white film artefacts making their presence felt during the transfer, but nothing really distracting.

    The DVD is an RSDL formatted effort with the layer change coming at 69:29. This is quite a well-handled effort as it occurs during an upward pan through a black scene fade, and so is barely noticeable at all and certainly does not disrupt the film at all.

    Since this is one of those still relatively rare efforts of a foreign language film with English subtitles (which do default to on), it is very amusing to watch the dub soundtrack with the subtitles on. Sometimes very close to the mark, they also wander almost completely away from each other at times.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, being a Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English dub Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Since there is only one way to watch Hong Kong films, I stuck with the Cantonese soundtrack. I might not understand too much of the lingo (and there is a bunch of Japanese to contend with too I think) but what you can't guess from the Hong Kong Action Film Script No.22©, the subtitles will help you out with. I did however also indulge as much of the rubbish English dub as I could endure before the laughter got too much to bear.

    The dialogue was all over the shop in the film, with some being quite difficult to hear and understand (term used loosely of course), but in general was passably clear and relatively easy to understand. There did not appear to be any significant audio sync issues in the transfer. The English dub soundtrack obviously suffers horrendously from audio sync problems, but more than makes up for that with an utterly clear and completely understandable dialogue. A pity that the dialogue does not warrant such clarity. The dub really does suck.

    The music score is credited to Peter Kam, although it really does sound like the Hong Kong Action Film Soundtrack No.29©, with just a few odd bits of the Hong Kong Action Film Soundtrack No.13© thrown in just for some variety. There really is not much here that I would consider much above average at best and it really does sound like a whole bunch of other clichéd action film soundtracks. I suppose that it does its job well enough though, as you really don't notice it that much.

    The only major issue I have with the Cantonese soundtrack, apart from it highlighting the decidedly average foley work (I am being very polite), is the fact that the bass channel has been ridiculously mixed into the overall soundtrack and comes thundering into action in a completely unnatural and completely unbelievable way. In other words, it suits the film well! No, all kidding aside, it is very poor at times and a mild kung-fu kick that barely connects gets a bass support equivalent to an Armageddon-sized asteroid hitting the Earth. Yet at other times the bass channel seems to go mysteriously silent when you would have expected huge bass support. Even funnier is the fact that the English dub soundtrack does not seem to suffer the same way and the bass channel is overall more natural and believable. Surround channel use, especially through the rear channels, is not terrific but it does the job that is asked of it without too much hassle. It does lack a degree of sparkle overall in both soundtracks and needs a lot more air in the sound to be believable, despite the high bit rate of the transfer. However, I seriously doubt that anyone would be approaching this film expecting an audio demonstration anyway, and so I doubt that too many would really be disappointed with what we have got here.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    I suppose that expecting too much in the way of extras would also be anathema to the genre of the film. They are made the way they are made for a reason and the Western need for extras would hardly rank high in the scheme of things I would suspect when budgets are being worked out for the film and its various video releases.


    Nothing much in the way of special here - theming is okay and there is no enhancement of any kind.

Dolby Digital Trailer - City

    Arrrrggggghhh.... okay, take a deep breath..... 1.... 2.... 3.... 4.... 5.... 6.... okay, I can feel the blood pressure dropping.... 7.... 8.... 9.... 10.... Okay, more relaxed now. How about a plaintive appeal to Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment? Could we please have something other than this trailer, transferred at a ridiculously high decibel rate compared to the main programming, sometime real soon? It is really getting to be a pain having to endure it and the only thing that is restraining me from ripping the DVD from the player and breaking it into a million pieces is the fact that it is skippable. If we cannot get some variety, could we at least skip the thing completely when mastering DVDs?

Featurette - The Making Of Tokyo Raiders (20:40)

    This really does come across as a relatively lengthy EPK type of promotional effort with plenty of the crew doing suitably cute things to impress the press, whilst providing cloying interview snippets which leave you in no doubt that everyone on the film was terrific and the director is the closest thing we have to God on Earth. In other words, apart from the chance to see Kelly Chen and Cecilia Cheung a bit more, there is plenty of reason to not watch this featurette. Clearly they all think they were making something akin to Gone With The Wind here. And to top it all off the technical quality is pretty poor. Soft focus, undersaturation of colours, what looks like overexposure at times and enough film artefacts to guarantee that the whole thing looks twenty years old. It is presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with rather average Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Definitely better than nothing, but so is knocking $5.00 of the RPI. Maybe you will get more from this than I did.


    As far as we have been able to ascertain, there are no censorship issues with this title.

R4 vs R1

    From what information I am able to gather, this has just been released in Region 1 and seems to be pretty much the same as the Region 4 release. I failed to track down any reviews of the DVD, so have to presume that since it is a Columbia TriStar release it would have as good a transfer as the source material would allow. This would mean that there is no real preference either way unless PAL formatting and lack of 3:2 pull down artefacts are really critical to you.


    Tokyo Raiders is certainly not the greatest example of a Hong Kong film ever made, but it is a fairly typical example of modern Hong Kong film nonetheless. As such, it displays everything that you want in such action films - basically mindless entertainment with plenty of action - and is well worth checking out. I doubt that this will be a frequent visitor to my player but it is still a welcome addition to the relatively small catalogue of Hong Kong films on Region 4 DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
13th April, 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL