Well Go Usa // 2010 // 118 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 15th, 2012
A kung fu western on steroids.
I tend to live by this credo: Be wary of goods self-marketed as "on steroids."
A fugitive assassin named Zhang Ning takes his girlfriend on the run into the Gobi Desert. After waxing a high-level gangster and grabbing a cellphone photo of the shadowy figure who ordered the hit, Zhang is a marked man. On his trail are two forces: the cops, led by the wily Detective Leopard (Duan Yihong) -- whose name, by the way, is "Leopard" -- and a tag-team of lethal bounty hunters dispatched by a kingpin desperate to get the incriminating photo back.
The cops and criminals clash, both determined to take Zhang Ning in for their own purposes. What ensues is an odd concoction of slow laborious exposition and inventive complex action sequences, making Wind Blast...
...a frustrating experience.
There were moments in the film that really popped, most notably a fantastic chase between a Jeep and a humongous construction vehicle that tore up the desert and provided some dope giant truck chase thrills (of which I am the world's biggest sucker for). Unfortunately, bracketing these bits are extensive sequences of plot grinding and mediocre dialogue, producing that diabolical double-edged sword of uneven action movie-making: the set pieces resonate in a large way, only because they're an oasis from the tedium.
The big issue with Wind Blast is that the plot's just not robust enough to sustain its two-hour runtime nor the prolonged exposition. I can appreciate simplicity in my action movies, and the story is just that: a fugitive fought over by good guys and bad guys. The end. Normally I would applaud a clean Spartan narrative, but this thing is spread way too thin.
Another disappointment: The finale. It's a pretty obvious take on the Western genre, complete with a showdown in a sandblasted alley, and yet it feels anti-climactic. The fates our heavies meet are unsatisfying, which especially discouraging since they were made out to be total studs throughout. Plus, the film's most gonzo set-up -- that awesome desert truck chase -- occurs earlier in the story, essentially takes the piss out of the endgame.
Wind Blast is far from a turd, but it takes what could have been a briskly-paced bout of inventive action and bloats it. There's still fun to be had, but you're going to sit through some flotsam to reach it.
Well Go USA's Blu-ray presentation is similarly uneven. At times the 1.78:1/1080p widescreen transfer is worthy of the HD format, especially the full daylight stuff in the desert and the truck chase. When night falls, however, the grain kicks in and impacts the resolution considerably. For audio, we get the original Dolby 2.0 Stereo mix in Mandarin and an enhanced DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio treatment. Bonus Features: two 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurettes.
The fact that the synopsis on the back of the disc takes up half the space at a font size of 7 should tell you how arduous this trip can be...but it's not without its merits.
Guilty. Chop off twenty-to-thirty minutes and you're back in business.
Review content copyright © 2012 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Well Go Usa
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Mandarin)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Mandarin)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated