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Hot War
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DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles


18th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Nomination - Best Action Design (Stephen Tung Wai)

Chinese: 幻影特攻
Year: 1998
Director: Jingle Ma Chor-Sing
Producer: Jackie Chan
Writer: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung, Law Chi-Leung, Chow Siu-Man
Action: Stephen Tung Wai
Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Kelly Chan Wai-Lam, Terence Yin (Wan Chi-Wai), Vanessa Yeung Jing, Asuka Higuchi, Reuben Langdon
The Skinny: Another Hong Kong foray into Western-style filmmaking leaves viewers gasping in disbelief and running for the exits.

by Kozo:

The first film from celebrated cinematographer Jingle Ma is a cross between Downtown Torpedoes, Once a Thief and The Lawnmower Man. Ekin Cheng is Tango One, a scientist working in Chicago for the CIA. He’s partnered with childhood friends C.S. (Jordan Chan) and Szeto Blue (Kelly Chan). The three grew up in an HK orphanage before relocating to the U.S. where they work on a subliminal project called “VR Fighters” that trains soldiers through virtual reality. 

On the other side of the globe, evil terrorist Alien (Terence Yin) and his sexy moll J (Vanessa Yeung) are busy kidnapping and killing other subliminal scientists in an unknown plan of obvious nefarious intent. They cross paths with our three heroes at C.S.’s wedding, which ends with the kidnapping of Blue and the death of C.S.’s bride. Pissed, Tango and C.S. use the VR Fighter project to transform themselves into super spies. Then they head for HK to find Alien and give him a subliminal ass-whupping. 

As you can likely tell, this is a movie where the ludicrousness of the plot reaches epic proportions. Never mind that these three work for the CIA - the idea that Kelly Chan can head up a super-secret government project is laughable, as is Ekin Cheng’s severely broken English. Thankfully the film is saved by excellent action sequences from Stephen Tung Wai, who also choreographed the action in Downtown Torpedoes. The action is a saving grace amidst a morass of awful acting, poor character, and meaningless emotion. 

While the film manages to throw a couple of unexpected curves at the viewer, the more predictable parts anchor the film to mediocrity. One only has to look as far as the idiotic English-speaking actors and the incredibly awful villain Alien. Played by the handsome Terence Yin, Alien is about as threatening as Chris O’Donnell in Batman and Robin. The most dangerous character in the film is probably Jordan Chan’s C.S., especially after the VR Training takes a toll on his psyche. The darkness that follows drives the second half of the film, but it’s hard to get into something so nihilistic when you’re basically watching a popcorn movie. 

Sadly, Hot War can never be given more credit only because it came out after Downtown Torpedoes and Enter the Eagles. Those were better movies anyway. Sure, the action in all three is comparable, but Hot War loses points for leaning on its VR hook. The idea of young technology mercenaries and kick-ass professional thieves is a lot easier to swallow then subliminally enhanced super-soldiers. And even though I did like Downtown Torpedoes, I can only take so much of pop stars living out their Mission: Impossible fantasies. And the names: Tango One? Szeto Blue? Who writes this stuff? (Kozo 1999)

image courtesy of The Hong Kong Movie Database Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen