For a film that's set in the future, the technique employed by Wong Jing to tell a story seemed rooted in the past, with an incredibly dated feel despite some gaudy looking special effects and CGI background that made it look more tacky than sophisticated. He will not like me saying that his film is rubbish, and has already fired his salvo back at those who say it is, so I'll instead say that this film lacked depth, and if put side by side with his rich filmography, then it should rank somewhere at the bottom.
It's very surprising then to find a list of notable stars all willing to sign on the dotted line and be associate with the film. I guess having to pay the bills do take its toil, and one wonders if Andy Lau really needed such a film to boost his coffers. After all, rumours were abound that there were numerous rewrites before being satisfied with it, and it's bad for the heart to imagine just how ridiculous the first draft might have been. Then there's Xu Jiao, the kid from Stephen Chow's CJ7 in her follow up film, also a science fiction fantasy one, and Taiwanese Big S / Barbie Hsu as well, with cameos by Fan Siu-Wong and Fan Bing Bing, that one hopes their next film would erase all memory of this nightmare.
For starters, the film tried too hard to recreate a futuristic landscape, so much so that everything looked extremely rote, sterile and repetitive, and goes to show just how much the East has to catch up with the West in terms of an effects-laden picture. Andy Lau plays Andy, a Judge Dredd knockoff sans muscles and attitude, and learns of the ploy by a gang of cyborgs who intend to utilize a time machine to go back in time and kill off a prominent professor responsible for everyone's good life because of the cheap harnessing of solar energy. So in Terminator proportions but with their clothes on, the fight goes back to the past, with Andy bringing his daughter along for the ride, though unknowing to her that he had undergone some Iron-Man transformation permanently.
You'll find plenty of subplots and story elements being copied from about 10000 movies, from Iron Man, Terminator, Cyborg She, and Spiderman 2 even, all mashed and strung together through primarily action based sequences which are designed in such a juvenile manner, it's laughable and can only appeal to 5 year olds. The big action sequence set in a theme park was so done in such a knock off manner with plenty of wire stunts that it was simply ridiculous to have wasted celluloid capturing it. Other big fight sequences also looked like they were directed off lessons from B-grade 80s films, and are pure antidotes for insomnia. Ching Siu Tung did the action choreography, and I wonder how much heart when into designing its the many fisticuffs here, with CG instead of adding to the intensity, becoming such a liability.
Other than the action, the romance here between Lau and Hsu reeked and was totally unbelievable, with romantic subplots of other characters being even worse. Loose ends such as the primary mission also got sidetracked and was resolved as a matter of convenience, and bad acting peppered the film, which I don't think was deliberate, but more of an expression of exasperation to get this film and their roles over and done with.
I feel that Wong Jing may have had his hands tied with this one, going by the number of financiers, that he couldn't unleash his arsenal of adult language and themes, though tried as he might to sneak in something cheeky since a leopard can't change its spots, only to pull his punches back to stay in the same zone. It was a glimpse into what Wong Jing stood for back then in his hey days, which by now he had regressed back to doing more of such B-grade productions relying on his past glories, and unfathomable star power willing to be attached to a piece of junk. Skip this.