Elhcay .
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Flash Point

The movie opens and concludes with Donnie Yen thinking out aloud, "Have I ever wronged anyone? I'll leave it to the judge to decide. I'm a cop... my duty is to catch the thieves." From those words, you can tell that he means business and so does this film. And this pretty much sums up the whole movie, to the point and effective. The elegance of this movie lies in its directness and simplicity. While it follows SPL concept of bad guys get away due to lack of evidence and eventually cops get so pissed off and flout all rules to get them, the movie is less grim, less dark, not as atmospheric and takes place in a somewhat zany world (albeit without getting silly) where something somewhat loony would take place here and there, yet at the same time maintaining an earnest tone. So there are times logic is being put aside. While SPL carries the underlying theme of father, Flash Point centres on maternal ties. The movie, which was apparently based on real events, does a good job in taking time to establish the shimmering characters. It has a sparkling soundtrack that fits the mood. (I must say I can't stand one second of the jarring techno, heavy metal stuff in Invisible Target.) The film can get quite violent at times, insofar as there's apparently some disputes over the film classification in HK that release is being pushed back by a week to Aug 9.

In a way, Flash Point is unequivocally an SPL prequel (This may explain why they'd want to call the film SPL 2 initially. However, Gold Label, which holds the rights did not allow them use the name as it is reportedly working on its own version of SPL 2.) with the focus being on Ma Jun of the renegade star Army Breaker, when he's still an extremely violent super-cop of one track mind - to catch the criminals at whatever costs. He has the sadistic tendency to seriously injure the criminals he is after, and derives satisfaction out of it, he makes sure that he finishes up the job by cuffing up the incapacitated victim - dead or alive. Thus, he always lands himself in awkward situations with his superiors. However, being a loner, non-conformist, he always defies authorities - often to great comical effect. Fancy Donnie Yen being relieved of his duties as an investigator and made to conduct a band? Such are the oddball relations between Donnie Yen and other cops that something funny would bound to happen whenever there's another cop around.

Xing Yu carries himself very well, standing out as a brash, straightforward guy who resolves everything with his fists. Unfortunately he was not given enough time to give full play to his martial arts skills - all his action scenes are rather short. Still, it's amazing to see him running over the chairs and tables, seemingly unassisted by wires, that could topple any minute.

There are sporadic action scenes throughout the film, but they're all rather short. I thought they're being a little too stingy with length. With Invisible Target, you get desensitised with over-dosage of action, but Flash Point just leaves you wanting for more. There are two or three places which could definitely benefit from having extended action scenes without getting in the way of drama: at the beginning in which the three brothers are attacked by their rival Lin Guo Bin/Lin Kwok Pun, Xing Yu-Donnie Yen showdown near the end (Reportedly Xing Yu eardrum was shattered by Donnie Yen when filming this scene. Maybe that's why it's it was kept short.), and the opening scene whereby Donnie Yen storms the boxing training facility (How about putting the unseen martial artists from around the globe to block Donnie Yen before he could catch his target there?).

In the finale, we get an intense, superbly shot gunfight, followed by the excellent Donnie vs Ngai Sing exchange of fists. The camera was a mite too close in the beginning when the fight breaks out in a storage room on the 2nd floor. Thankfully, this was addressed quickly once they get to the ground floor. In the middle, there's a splendid scene in which they go freestyle for 2 rounds, with missed hits, bad synchronisations, all executed at incredible speed, similar to the fight between Donnie Yen - Wu Jing in SPL. However, it is reduced too early to a one-man show, as Ngai Sing loses out too soon and is already limping in the last 2/5 of the fight, getting beaten up only.

The martial arts scenes in Flash Point are more evolutionary than revolutionary. If you've seen SPL, you'd know what to expect here. But this time around, there are more interactions with the environment. However, I don't like too much takedowns, chokes, ground holds, and all that, which feel sluggish, as in the case of the finale between Donnie Yen and Ngai Sing (or Sammo Hung vs Donnie Yen for that matter). Mixed Martial Arts or not, I still prefer trading of fists and kicks.

Wilson Yip is the man, and together with Donnie Yen and Szeto Kam Yuen, they pack a delightful and uproarious punch.

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