THE ADVENTURERS. Gravity Pictures, China, 2017. Original title Xia dao lian meng. Andy Lao, Jean Reno, Zhang Jingchu, Qui Shu, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Eric Trang, Yi Sha. Co-Written and directed by Stephen Fung.

   The setup for this exciting heist film is the oldest of cops and robbers cliches, the tough obsessed cop vs the clever thief. A thousand variations of the story have been told from Les Miserables to Arsene Lupin, but this one wisely relies on action, high tech, gorgeous locales (Paris, Cannes, Prague, Kiev — the latter not so gorgeous), and a bit of character development rather than try to ring any changes on the standard tropes.

   Dan Zhang (Andy Lao) is just out of prison. He was captured while stealing a rare jewel, one part of a fabulous set known as Gaea, when he stopped to rescue Inspector Pierre Bissette (Jean Reno) from a burning police car, and a mysterious motorcyclist ambushed him, knocked him unconscious, and stole the jewel.

   In short order Dan eludes Bissette and is off to Cannes where the second part of the Gaea set is up for auction. Reunited with his friend and computer geek partner Po (Tony Yo-ning Yang) for the heist they are also joined by a third new team member, Red (Qui Shu) a kick ass young woman of invaluable skills.

   The heist goes off without a hitch despite Bissette’s presence, and Dan and Po are off to see the fence who befriended and taught Dan all he knows, Kong (Eric Trang), who presents Dan with the tongue of the thief who hijacked the jewel five years earlier, and informs Dan that his fiance, art appraiser Amber, was the one who turned him into the cops. Dan still loves her though, and can’t really blame her.

   The cost of retirement is high, and with the money Kong spent on revenge taken out of his payment, Dan agrees to one last heist, the third and final part of the Gaea set the Rope of Life, owned by wealthy Charlie Lo (Yi Sha) who keeps it in his castle outside Prague.

   Meanwhile Bissette, under pressure to capture Dan, and with his own demonsdriving his pursuit (his father was a thief) is joined by Dan’s fiance Amber (Zhang Jingchu) to try and track Dan’s next heist down.

   “He’s the worst kind of thief,” Bissette tells Amber, “one with ethics and integrity. If I don’t get him now I never will.”

   It will be a surprise to no one that there is more going on than this, crosses and double crosses, betrayal, and subtle reminders that Dan and Bissette are more alike than different spice up the heist and its aftermath. Finally, with Amber taken hostage Dan must team with Bissette, and he and Po travel to Kiev in Russia where Gaea is to be sold, and all the scores settled in a clever finale.

   A clever metaphor for the plot and action are the Russian style dolls Kong makes for a hobby, revealed layer beneath layer until the truth is uncovered. No new ground is broken here, but it is great fun, better acted than usual, and with enough car chases, narrow escapes, neat gadgets, and reversals of fortune for two or three Bond movies enhanced by a solid script (co-credited with Lao as Andy Lo and others) and direction.

   Reno doesn’t have a lot to do in the mostly Chinese cast, but he adds weight to the story, and wears the cliches of his character like a bespoken suit. His Inspector Bissette is a lonely man who talks to the bugs in his apartment and has been passed over for promotion because of his failure to capture Zhang, but he is human and capable rather than the usual cartoon policeman of the cliché.

   Of course as usual there are some things you just have to take on faith they are so outside the realm of possibility, but if you are willing to give an inch, The Adventurers will brighten any evening.