Warriors of Future 2022 Movie Review
Warriors of Future, the long-awaited dream project from producer and actor Louis Koo, is a Hong Kong sci-fi action film that delivers on its initial attempt at CGI spectacle. It is a groundbreaking entry for Hong Kong cinema, catapulting into the realm of the big-budget CGI blockbuster filmmaking.
In the year 2055 on an environmentally-damaged and war-torn Earth, a meteorite strikes a futuristic Hong Kong, now known as B-16 district. A giant alien plant, named Pandora, has rapidly grown out from the rubble, causing devastation but also purifying the air. Scientists have devised a missile to alter the genetic makeup of Pandora to stop its growth and keep purifying the air. Tyler and Johnson of the B16 Air Force are sent to carry out the mission.
As a film, Warriors of Future is a triumphant opportunity both seized and missed all wrapped in a $450 million dollar bow.
The CG action scenes, while not up to Hollywood standards, are impressive for a first attempt. First-time director Ng Yuen Fai, who previously worked as a special effects artist, uses a quick cut style that’s thrilling in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type way. Although it is not photorealistic, everything visually falls into place and it has a consistent anime look of its own.
Unfortunately, Warriors of Future suffers from a severe lack of originality and thin plotting and characterizations in a script that’s written around the action set pieces. The majority of the script’s flaws could have been easily fixed by cutting out a shot or delaying certain information to create suspense, just Screenwriting 101 level stuff. All of which wouldn’t have cost Mr. Koo an extra cent.
The overall results are Yin and Yang. Audiences will scratch their heads going, “The CG is decent. If you got that right, why couldn’t you script this story better? Isn’t writing the easier thing out of the two?”
Everything had traces from something we’ve seen before. I counted up to twenty sci-fi films that Warriors of Future was pulling ideas from, including Avatar, Iron Man, District 9, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and even the Batman Arkham games. It’d make one killer drinking game.
In the acting department, Sean Lau and Phillip Keung come out as the MVPs, breathing sweet life into the otherwise empty CG environments and helping Louis Koo carry the film in front of the camera. The buddy dynamic between the trio works well.
Nick Cheung gives a stilted, steely-eyed “smell the fart” performance that’s straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon. Carina Lau and Tse Kwan Ho are both underused, the former having to deliver exposition and the other in a taciturn role.
That all said and done, Warriors of Future was a good time. Admittedly, I am biased being from Hong Kong.
Louis Koo’s dream of stimulating the Hong Kong film industry is a noble and, some might say, romantic notion. Koo has invested so much of his own money into this small island in China to build up its entertainment industry, sometimes making risky business decisions. For example, Koo deliberately chose to do all the visual effects in one company in Hong Kong. Normally, they are done by multiple companies across the globe for efficiency.
That sentiment has touched people. Ever since it was reported that the film had a disappointing box office in Mainland China, Hong Kong audiences have actively gone out to support the film. It was packed for a weekday screening in my theater.
Warriors of Future ended up being more than a one-off theatrical experience, but an actual showreel of future CGI-driven Hong Kong films to come. Computer effects aside, seeing Hong Kong actors in mech suits battling robots was an eye-opening spectacle in itself. Finally, when the credits rolled, everybody intuitively stayed in their seats and waited for the mid-credits scene like a Marvel movie. It all felt very communal.
So from these sentiments alone, Hong Kong audiences will get more out of Warrior of Future. Honestly, I too am moved by Louis Koo’s vision and even as I’m cracking jokes here, I don’t feel like punching down on this film. It has my respect for its ambitions and it’ll probably be remembered as the pioneer film. However, the film will struggle to impress an international audience as English-speaking audiences won’t be as forgiving with its script and matter-of-factly written subtitles. The grammarian in me still eagerly wants to add a “the” to the title.
If there is going to be a sequel to Warriors of Future, more effort needs to be devoted into the writing and storytelling. Local audiences won’t be so forgiving the second time around.
With my palms together into a prayer pose and sending positive vibes, I eagerly await the sequel.