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Film Review: Europe Raiders (2018) - The film story itself is a "covert operation" against CIA

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

FILE PHOTO: A Poster of EUROPE RAIDERS (2018). ©Mei Ah Entertainment Group Co., Ltd.
FILE PHOTO: A Poster of EUROPE RAIDERS (2018). ©Mei Ah Entertainment Group Co., Ltd.

This is part of Dir. Jingle Ma (馬楚成)'s Raiders trilogy. It includes its preceding films such as Tokyo Raiders (2000; 東京攻略) and Seoul Raiders (2005; 韓城攻略). Europe Raiders (2018; 歐洲攻略) is typical Mainland-China-Hong Kong cooperated blockbuster film of this year.

And it's quite successful in its film technics and anti-CIA political effect. It is far from 007-like spy movies, and also it is not laughable like spy comedy of Leslie Nielsen, Spy Hard (1996).

Its film story itself is a "covert operation" against CIA and audiences. This film's main feature is that its story telling is a kind of covert operation which done by "actors" in the film story. And CIA is the only loser at the end.

This franchise takes intelligence covert operation as its theme and it has competitive skills and quality of filmmaking standard which are seen in the most of Hollywood films.

Namely it should not be simply seen as a "thriller" to avoid any vagueness and generalisation that quite preventing audiences from straight understanding the main narrative action, "intelligence agencies' covert operation".

However, Europe Raiders (2018) is not like 007-like traditional spy action thriller. Its aim is to make a CIA parody with cynicism. As the result, it became a serious parody.

The story is quite complicated due to its dual dramatic story telling structure.

Temporary employed CIA agents, bounty hunters Lin Zaifeng (played by the most famous Hong Kong star Tony Leung Chiu-wai, 梁朝偉) and his girlfriend Ms. Wang (played by Tiffany Yan Tang, 唐嫣) have to deal with enemy of CIA in Italy, the pseudo-antagonist, hacker, Italian mafia's manipulator Sophie (played by Du Juan, 杜鵑) who threatening CIA for the revenge of her tortured father, an engineer of the PRISM-like spying system "Hand of God" (MacGuffin), and she wants to get her brother Rocky (played by Kris Wu, 吳亦凡) released from CIA's secret prison.

FILE PHOTO: A Production Image of EUROPE RAIDERS (2018). ©Mei Ah Entertainment Group Co., Ltd.
FILE PHOTO: A Production Image of EUROPE RAIDERS (2018). ©Mei Ah Entertainment Group Co., Ltd.

After Lin Zaifeng and Ms.Wang successfully release Sophie's brother Rocky to find the target, then Sophie secretly cooperates with Lin Zaifeng and Ms. Wang to deceive CIA by acting a battle in a Nuclear manufacturing plant.

At the end, we can find that true antagonist is CIA, not others. The con is that involvement of assassins from European intelligence agency lacks its logical explanation of any kind in cinematic way.

The plotting is not adequate that these assassins are just additional props by "Hands of God". A kind of miracle device to complicate the battle among CIA, the hacker and bounty hunters.

Audience could have a bias in the first half of this film as pro CIA action thriller with quite smooth proceeding of events, one after another.

On the contrary, from the car chase sequence in high way in which bounty hunters pick up Sophie's brother Rocky, the drama is clearly sifted into a severe battle with CIA.

After the Alien 3 (1992)-like pseudo-ending of the confrontation among assassins, Sophie and bounty hunters, the story reveals its true narrative aspect that true winner is bounty hunters, not CIA at all because everything is a show cheating on CIA. The structure of story-telling of this film is dual.

The story-telling has developed from complicated pseudo conflict among CIA against hacker Sophie to true conflict between bounty hunters and CIA. This is a dialectic of story telling.

About the specialty of cinematic solution, basically all of technical solutions are already familiar to audiences. However, it should refer to the black and white solution of the subject in the frame shapes a colourful conflict with coloured background.

For instance, when Lin Zaifeng falling in to the fake nuclear fuel furnace, we can see the similar framing with Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley falling into furnace in Alien 3 (1992).

On the contrary it is more digitally differentiated in colour resolution. Technically it is actually progressed from that.

This is a quality work as an anti-CIA parody for China. Politically mature audiences can accept it as some kind of alternative to 007 spy movies in the past. Moreover its filmmaking techniques are far exceeding Taiwanese filmmakers in all aspects at present. A successful Mainland-Hong Kong film cooperation!

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