Special ID (Tè Shū Shēn Fèn, 特殊身份): an undercover cop finds himself in danger when he’s set on a collision course with an old protégé. Tonally, this film is an absolute mess; there’s Loony Tunes style moments of slapstick comedy in the middle of realistic MMA-Style fight scenes; despite it being a big-budget movie with slick intentions it continually returns to the super-cheese with bawdy music and silly melodramatic over-acting; there’s also a few sleep-inducingly boring scenes (one about Tattoos in particular). The timeline is all over the place, jumping around with no explanation, unaided by the lax direction and editing. There’s some woeful Volvo product placement: not satisfied with having their ‘City Safety’ mode blatantly pimped, there’s an entire fight scene AROUND THEIR CAR – it also doesn’t blow up when it’s dropped from height, unlike those rubbish Land Rovers!!! Ppsschhhtt!!! On the plus side, the action is generally impressive (particularly the two elongated fights at either end of the movie) despite some superhuman abilities being thrown in to the mix here and there. I love Donnie Yen and will watch anything he’s in, but he’s going for a Jackie Chan style cheeky-chappy role here, and doesn’t quite have the charm/charisma to nail it. In the end, this is amounts to little more than another completely forgettable Asian undercover cop film – with two decent fight scenes.
Redbelt: (Blu Ray) Follows a badass martial artist – that goes around unintentionally making everyone else look rubbish – and his nagging wife as they end up in the world’s biggest cluster fuck. For the record, this one’s all story and no action, with what has to be the worst main ‘non-fight’ ever. There’s almost no fisticuffs throughout and what little action you do see is comprised of 1-2 second shots that doesn’t really flow like MMA should. This is made more annoying because the soundtrack really gets you pumped up for a big rumble several times. Fighting gripes aside the story’s a tour de force in every sense of the word, although it gets a bit unlikely towards the end. It’s masterfully told / directed and superbly acted; Ejiofor and Mortimer in particular standout despite all the distracting big-name athletes, actors and personalities that pop up throughout. The BD picture’s sharp, but there’s nothing eye-popping on show, the sound however is immense, crisp and feels very natural – a pretty impressive disc. The judges score; marketing this as a ‘fighting’ film (Sony Fight Factory Label) is like branding The Blind Side an American Football movie, Borat an Educational one or Crank ‘good’… you do feel totally cheated; but what was on show is great.
Flash Point: The story was pretty much a dumbed down version of the Departed (which is a dumbed down version of the Infernal Affairs Trillogy!) but it was easy to watch as it didn’t really make you think. The best thing about this film was the non-stop ass-kicking fight scenes scattered throughout, that culminate in a HUGE 20 minute action scene. The combat is all pretty realistic and based on Mixed Martial Arts. After watching some of the features the reason it’s so good was that they drafted 5 legendary fighters to help choreograph and film the action. It’s pretty much a Tony Jaa film, but not as cheesy and far more life-like. Well worth buying / renting / lovefilming if you like your action flicks.