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Dragon Squad

Laurence Chou, Vanness Wu, Shawn Yue, Eva Huang, and Xia Yu team for Dragon Squad.
AKA: Dragon Heat  
Chinese: 猛龍  
Year: 2005  
Director: Daniel Lee Yan-Kong  
Producer: Michelle Yeh, Liu Jing
Writer: Daniel Lee Yan-Kong  
Action: Chin Kar-Lok  
Cast: Vanness Wu, Shawn Yue, Xia Yu, Eva Huang Shengyi, Lawrence Chou Chun-Wai, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Michael Biehn, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Huh Jun-Ho, Maggie Q, Li Bingbing, Isabella Leong, Ken Tong Chun-Yip, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, Andy On Chi-Kit, Liu Kai-Chi, Tony Ho Wah-Chiu, Bey Logan, Philip Ng Won-Lung
The Skinny: The Hong Kong equivalent of a Michael Bay film, only with shockingly less character and little sense of humor. Energetic but overdirected action can't disguise the truth: this movie is bad. Exec-produced by Steven Seagal!
by Kozo:

If Michael Bay directed a Hong Kong film, the result would likely be Dragon Squad. This internationally-produced and flavored action film from director Daniel Lee (Star Runner) certainly looks good, and possesses energetic action sequences and a glossy, professional sheen that simply screams "quality". If only that quality extended to the actual story and characters. F4 member Vanness Wu stars as Hao, a Chinese-American cop who joins forces with Hong Kong cop Lok (Shawn Yue), former undercover policewoman Suet (Eva Huang of Kung Fu Hustle), former British operative James (Lawrence Chou), and Mainland sniper Lu (Xia Yu). Together, these five young kickass cops form the Dragon Squad, though they never get assigned that awesome name in the actual movie. Instead they're generally disregarded and told to get out of the way like the meddlesome kids they are. It's like Gen-X Cops crossed with Scooby-Doo.

Originally, the five are ferried around to help bring a mohawked bad guy to trial. Unfortunately, the bad guy gets nicked by a group of international mercenaries, led by the American-Colombian Petros (played by Michael Biehn of Aliens and The Terminator). Among Petro's ace bad-guy group are Korean ex-soldier Ko (Huh Jun-Ho), and Vietnamese sniper Song (Maggie Q), who sports pigtails like all Vietnamese female snipers are required to do. The group is really on a series of personal vengeance trips: Petros is after a gang boss (Ken Tong) who killed his brother, while Ko has a bone to pick with cop Lung (Sammo Hung). After the group is cool veteran cop Hon (Simon Yam), who's at odds with Lung over a botched sting.

The Dragon Squad? They're ignored by everyone else even though they're totally hot and pretty damn skilled. The five show off their ace skills by randomly attacking a shooting gallery at a local bar. After scaring the local populace, Suet decrees, "We make a pretty good team." And they should, because they hail from every law-enforcement acronym known to man, from the FBI to the SAS to the SDU, OCTB, and probably the PTA. Each member of the Dragon Squad gets totally cool flashy intros showing their law-enforcement credentials, all accompanied by a whiz-bang soundtrack and cool posing shots that look like the opening credits of a TV show. These nifty glamour shots return time and time again to hammer home the obvious: these are pretty people who kick ass.

The kids certainly get enough chances to show their ass-kicking mettle. In a rarity for a current Hong Kong film, Dragon Squad is loaded with helter-skelter action sequences, many of which entertain in a bullets-flying mayhem kind of way. The action scenes are also overdirected to the point of distraction, with plenty of quick-cuts and obvious attempts to make a routine action scene look cool. Realism completely flies out the window during these scenes: major characters only get shot during wannabe-dramatic moments, and not during actual firefights. Furthermore, the bad guys are deadly sharpshooters EXCEPT when they face the Dragon Squad. This sort of fakery is common action movie license, and anyone who's seen a Hollywood film is likely used to such stuff. But this is a Hong Kong action movie. Isn't it supposed to be better than a Hollywood film?

Also like a Hollywood film, Dragon Squad gives defining personal issues to each of its major characters. Lok has an ailing brother, Suet once fell in love while on undercover assignment, and bad guy Petros actually seems to fall for his quarry's former girlfriend, an insipid club girl played by Lee Bing-Bing. Hao is recording this mission for posterity. Why? Because according to Hao, memory is false, and only by recording the actual events of his life can he find real truth. Or something. It's hard to swallow such pseudo-existentialism in Dragon Squad because all feeling in the film seems false and perfunctory instead of natural. The characters are uniformly uninteresting, and only achieve sympathy or identity because of the actors playing them. Ergo, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Huh Jun-Ho, and even Michael Biehn carry weight, while Vanness Wu and Shawn Yue are lightweight and colorless. Eva Huang is notable as Suet because she's just so damn adorable, and Xia Yu is likable because of his character's ill-developed puppy love for Suet. Lawrence Chou achieves recognition due to his facial hair. It's that kind of movie.

Dragon Squad may still prove attractive to many viewers thanks to its numerous action sequences and name-heavy cast. However, any entertainment gleamed should be of the guilty and brainless variety. Thanks to its inane plotting and uninteresting characters, Dragon Squad is nothing short of all-out bad, and could even make one long for the legendary badness of Gen-Y Cops. True, that film had a screechingly bad performance from Edison "See you at the Jumbo" Chen, but at least Gen-Y Cops had Sam Lee and Stephen Fung around to provide a welcome dash of humor. Dragon Squad has absolutely no sense of humor, and instead serves up supposedly touching drama that's neither touching nor dramatic. At the very least, Dragon Squad doesn't take itself too seriously, such that it rarely becomes all-out laughable. Still, if Gen-Y Cops is any proof, such badness can actually make a movie more entertaining. (Kozo 2005)



DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen