WARRIORS OF FUTURE. Chaotic mixture of classic science fiction themes
It hasn’t been known for a long time that they can make sci-fi spectacles in Asia – just think of Franta Gwo’s Wandering Earth (2019), available on Netflix, the fifth highest-grossing Chinese and non-English language film at the same time. The Netflix platform has again decided to invest in Asian SF, this time adding Hong Kong’s Warriors of Future to its portfolio. The two titles have surprisingly many things in common, and one of those things is, unfortunately, plot consistency.
Warriors of Future is a spectacular science fiction film that marks the directorial debut of Yuen-Fai Nga, until now a special effects specialist with little in the way of more widely known productions, even by Asian standards. It is all the more surprising that a man with no directing experience was chosen for such a major film project, which, unfortunately, can be seen many times in Warriors of the Future. Yuen-Fai Nga’s film is a post-apocalyptic story – in the year 2055 (so in barely a little over 30 years) wars and climatic disasters led to the destruction of the planet and its atmosphere, and the few remaining urban centers gradually began to hide under Skynets, technological protective domes. The metropolis of B-16, the equivalent of today’s Hong Kong, was unfortunately a tad late with the construction of its dome, as a result of which the city was hit by a meteor containing a space plant. Christened with the familiar-sounding name Pandora (someone here watched Avatar!), the alien flora grows at an express pace, consistently destroying the city. A scientist finds a way to curb Pandora’s further growth, but it involves carrying out a highly dangerous mission, to which Johnson (Sean Lau) and Tyler (Louis Koo), legendary pilots of the fighting machines whose popularization has spawned the world’s devastating wars, are assigned.
Warriors of Future is a mixture of popular themes from science fiction films of past years. The whole suicide mission is an obvious reference to Michael Bay’s Armageddon (1998), but also many other disaster/post apocalyptic productions, while the technology used by the B-16 army is undoubtedly inspired by Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow (2014). I’ve already written about the borrowing of the name from Avatar, and while this is hardly considered some outrageous borrowing, there’s no denying that the main feature of Yuen-Fai Nga’s film is its re-creation. Another feature that comes to the fore is the chaotic nature, which does not allow the viewer to maintain a high level of focus on the screening. Warriors of Future is not an edited film in the classic sense of the word – rather, the Hong Kong show has been shredded and cobbled together quickly. Millisecond-long shots that can barely be noted are the order of the day here and create extreme disorientation, which, with ambitious but poorly executed special effects (reminiscent of video games from a decade and a half ago), creates ultimate chaos, not allowing one to appreciate the attempt to realize an impressive science fiction spectacle.
Warriors of Future flits between a realization mess and a similar disorder in the plot itself – political-military plots get tangled up with the layered stories of individual characters’ lives, and yet there is still an ideological dimension (humanity’s responsibility for the planet’s demise) or simply a moral one (the use of weapons of mass destruction with the knowledge of numerous civilian casualties). So when we add up this chaotic calculus, we get the result in the form of a real cinematic mess – Yuen-Fai Nga’s film resembles a beautifully wrapped gift, into which someone accidentally threw small elements that do not have much in common. Even an experienced director would have had difficulty bringing order to this project, so the debutant was doomed to failure. Warriors of Future will find its audience (it’s already the highest-grossing Chinese-language Hong Kong film), but will tire them out enough to never return to this production.