Flash Point (2007) / Action-Thriller
aka Duo fo sin
aka City with No Mercy
MPAA Rated: R for strong bloody violence
Running time: 87 min
Cast: Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Wai Lui Leung, Bing Bing Fan, Kent Cheng, Xing Yu, Xu Qing, Ben Lam, Ha Ping, Irene Wang
Director: Wilson Yip
Screenplay: Szeto Kam-Yuen, Tang Lik-Kei
Review published June 5, 2008
The duo of fight choreographer and star Donnie Yen (Huadu Chronicles, Shanghai Knights) and director Wilson Yip (Bio-Zombie, The White Dragon) reunite for their third straight movie (after Kill Zone (aka SPL) and Dragon Tiger Gate) with more intense, brilliantly-choreographed fight scenes amid lackluster crime thriller elements we've see too many times to care about. Set prior to the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 (for reasons I was not able to ascertain), Yen stars as Ma, the efficient but highly unstable detective who keeps finding himself in hot water with Internal Affairs for beating up too many suspects on his cases. His latest case is to try to take down a Triad of drug dealing Vietnamese brothers who are about as ruthless as they get in the shady business.
One card up the sleeve for the police is an undercover cop, Wilson (Koo, Lost in Time), who has managed to become one of the top thugs in the criminal organization. However, once the cover is blown, the brothers will stop at nothing to make sure Wilson never testifies against them, and things come to a bloody head between crook and cop in a battle of all-out survival.
The ability to enjoy Flash Point resides solely on whether the last half hour of exciting, well-edited mixed martial arts is worth muddling through the previous hour of monotony leading up to it. If there are any fight scenes worth the price of admission, the scene between Yen and Collin Chou (DOA, Fearless) at the climax, choreographed by Yen himself, ranks very high among examples (a portion of it can be seen here). A superb chase through the busy city streets, a tense close-quarters brawl in an elevator, culminating in a brutal one-on-one battle amid the wood and concrete of a dilapidated building are a 1-2-3 punch of action that should leave genre fans gasping for more. However, as impressive as it is, it comes too late to save the film as a whole, with its very routine loose-cannon cop vs. vicious gangster storyline that has been done to death, especially in HK crime dramas.
Wilson Yip does have an eye for action that suggests he has it in him to make an action classic if he gets the right script. Flash Point will not be that classic. However, Donnie Yen fans will most likely be much more forgiving, though he is unforgivably absent from the film too much in the first hour, and if the few scenes where we see him in action were to have been in a better film, perhaps he'd finally break through to being the international action superstar lead he has the potential of being. My advice, if you end up renting this: watch it until you can figure out where things are leading, and once your interest starts to wane, fast-forward until you get to the superbly choreographed finale.
©2008 Vince Leo