ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 2.98 stars
by 265 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Double Teamed
by Adam Hakari

Heroic Duo manages to bring together both extremes of the action genre. To start, its overall style is pretty mundane and never really gets your blood pumping. On the other hand, its very premise is so utterly goofy, you can't help kissing your suspension of disbelief goodbye. You'd think the two styles might work in tandem with one another, creating a more rounded action movie rather than sticking to one end or the other. Instead, the two sides of Heroic Duo cancel each other out, resulting in a film stuck in neutral and too complacent to entertain anyone.

Hard-boiled cop Ken (Ekin Cheng) is summoned to the office one day to help investigate a rather strange crime. A decorated colleague has stolen some files and set fire to the evidence safe, though he claims not to recall the theft because he was hypnotized into doing it. The officer's subsequent suicide seems to indicate more complex forces at work, so to get to the bottom of things, Ken gets in touch with jailed psychology expert Jack Lai (Leon Lai). A master of hypnosis himself, Jack agrees to help weed out the real mastermind, only to pull a double-cross and entrance Ken into taking part in a jewel heist. But as Ken hits the road to clear his name, he begins to suspect Jack might still be innocent and that someone else may be using his mind-controlling abilities for his or her own ill-gotten gains.

Heroic Duo really wants to succeed in spite of itself. In a genre notorious for casting physics and logic asunder in the name of a few good thrills, this Hong Kong actioner seems especially difficult to swallow. Let's face it, the idea of a guy whose entire criminal empire hinges upon hypnosis is bound to raise more than a few eyebrows. But surprisingly enough, I had no problem accepting this premise. In fact, it gave the plot a unique spin, along with some unforeseen twists, which I hoped would carry on throughout the remainder of the film. Unfortunately, all it gave Heroic Duo amounted to temporary boost, as things soon shifted into routine-action movie mode. It's no surprise, since director Benny Chan appears to be a pro at making the least out of the stories he's given. This is the guy responsible for slapping Jackie Chan with a baby in Robin-B-Hood, and he didn't do a much better job with the confounding crime drama Divergence. He's content to pepper the picture with yawn-inducing gunfights, letting the story grow more muddled and melodramatic as it goes along.

The lack of visual flair here doesn't help matters either. Keeping in line with its overall shiftless attitude, Heroic Duo presents a pretty flat look. Save for an opening credits sequence airlifted out of a lesser Bond film, Chan mostly points the camera at the action and steps away. There's not much energy or verve to these sections. It's almost as if the movie started as a straight thriller first and got strong-armed into throwing in some gunplay. The pre-credits sequence -- in which the bad guys menace a family -- comes across as much more tense than the sluggish chase scenes that follow.

The movie's title doesn't even makes sense, since Ken and Jack spend more time trying to solve problems on their own than they do as a team. But at least you can walk away from the film knowing the actors tried to have a good time. Cheng fills the token "cop with attitude" role to a tee, but it's Lai who delivers the most memorable performance. Jack is a truly enigmatic character, and Lai does a good job of keeping viewers on their toes and wondering what he's going to do next.

Hong Kong action opuses have always been more renowned for their pyrotechnics than for their plots.  Heroic Duo is what happens when neither element is up to snuff. It's not a terrible film, but adrenaline junkies are liable to find more thrills at a dog show than with this disappointing import.

MY RATING: ** (out of ****)

(Released by Tartan Video U.S.A. and rated "R" for violent content.)

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC