Chinese gangster boss Ma (Siu-Ming Lau) is a mobster with morals, never dealing in drugs. His nephew Tony (Mark Dacascos) believes their future and fortune lies in drug importation, so teams up with American dealer Coolio (er, Coolio) behind his uncle’s back to get into the heroin business. They’ve not counted on young, head-strong cops Darren (Aaron Kwok) and Alex (Lee-Hom Wang) however...
Stanley Tong is a proven action craftsman, responsible for Jackie Chan flicks like Police Story 3 and Rumble in the Bronx, and China Strike Force’s stunt sequences are well up to scratch. Unfortunately there’s little to recommend elsewhere. Shot in English, it’s got a bizarre international cast – Aaron Kwok and Lee-Hom Wang are young Hong Kong stars, Norika Fujiwara, playing an undercover Japanese cop, is an ex-Miss Japan, Mark Dacascos is a Hawaiian martial arts champ and straight-to-video superstar, while Coolio is a rapper whose one hit, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, made him lots of money back in the mid-90s.
Fujiwara looks stunning but acts like she’s reading her lines off a cue card, while Kwok and Wang make for an incredibly dull pair of leading men – Tong has clearly realised this too and gives Coolio and Dacascos way more screentime. They have some amusing scenes together (Coolio beginning each one with "I could get used to this shit!"), but for some reason Coolio gets to do more kung-fu than Dacascos. And why is the rapper’s character called ‘Coolio’? Maybe he is actually playing himself, and he moved into drug smuggling after his music career stalled.
If you can put up with the weak plot, flat humour and largely stilted acting, then there are some great action scenes. A car chase through the streets of Shanghai sees Kwok pursue his quarry in a Formula 1 car, criss-crossing the road and whizzing beneath the wheels of trucks, while the climatic showdown is a three-way kung-fu fight upon a glass pane suspended hundreds of feet above the city. Most viewers will probably have given up by then though.