Judge David Johnson likes to test out his kung fu on his refrigerator. He's getting so good, he might start taking it to the hot water heater next.
They made it personal. He'll make them pay.
The latest from the excellent Dragon Dynasty label pits well-known overseas action staple Donnie Yen against a ruthless gang of criminals who deserve every bit of pain that he'll inflict upon them.
Facts of the Case
Yen is Inspector Jun, a loose cannon cop with a lethally short temper. The latest batch of scumbags in his sights is a drug-smuggling cartel that will stop at nothing to ensure their drug-smuggling lifestyle remains unchanged. These guys are committed to getting away cleanly, and to do it, they'll kidnap girlfriends, plant bombs in turkeys and throw helpless toddlers on their heads.
Oh, yeah, they need some comeuppance and Inspector Jun is more than happy to dish out the face smashing, no matter how much he alienates his department and his waste-of-space partner. When the gloves come off, Jun finds himself alone, squaring off with a legion of punks with only his wits, lightning-fast kung fu reflexes and itchy trigger finger to rely on.
And that will prove to be more than enough. Oh, yes.
At about the 50-minute mark, I was already writing this review in my head. It was going to say something like, "This is a well-shot and well-acted cop movie that looks and sounds great on DVD, but the lack of action was disappointing, and, ultimately keeps me from recommending it to genre nuts." Up to that point in the runtime, that was all true.
And then everything changed, and the flick turns on a dime into one of the baddest-ass action extravaganzas I've seen in some time. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I'm telling you this thing gets cooking with jet fuel two-thirds of the way in and morphs into something fierce.
The run-up to this high-octane final third is high quality, just soft on the fisticuffs and exploding. This foundation is focused on the procedural elements of the story, as Jun and his partner work the back-and-forth on the case, do some strong-arming on the criminals, make a few arrests and negotiate the hairpin tours of dealing with a bunch of thugs trying to blow them up.
So it's a moderately slow burn, but the wait is worth it. The festivities kick off with an excellent foot chase through the city, which leads to a sweet hand-to-hand bout and some nifty Tekken moves by Donnie Yen, which brings us to a face-off between Jun and the drug smugglers, which then leads to lots of gunfire and head wounds and an exchange of bullets in an overgrown field and a brief car chase, which then culminates in a one-on-one confrontation between Jun and the big bad (Collin Chou).
And that encounter, friends, is the stuff of legend.
Donnie Yen has put together, quite frankly, one of the all time kick-ass final fight sequences I've seen in an action movie. The bout—literally—goes on for 15 minutes straight, and all 15 minutes are crammed with Awesome. And if you didn't notice, that's Awesome with a capital A. Chou and Yen are both superb athletes, and their stunt doubles are even better. The choreography is fast and brutal (and according to Yen's commentary, often improvised) and the lack of wires and CGI enhancements is refreshing. Just a complete, balls-out action sequence and it's made that much more riveting precisely because of the set-up in the first two-thirds of the film. Chou's character had it coming to him in a big way and Yen is only too happy to oblige. Flash Point is a no-brainer for fans of action imports.
The two-disc set represents another gold star for the Dragon Dynasty series. Disc One holds the feature, beautifully transferred in a clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and pushing an excellent sound mix (Cantonese, DTS and Dolby 5.1 and English Dolby 5.1). I would recommend going with the original Cantonese with English subtitles as the dubbing is poor and distracting. Yen's commentary is entertaining and insightful. He's joined by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. Disc Two hosts the rest of the features: three behind-the-scenes featurettes, two brief segments on the fighting techniques used in the film, deleted scenes, an interview with Donnie Yen and a heaping helping of promotional materials.
Not guilty, officer. Carry on with your relentless throttling.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
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