|Available at Amazon.com|
Summer movie season is in full swing, but have you perhaps been a little disappointed or think the movies have been a little too kiddie oriented? Did you think Iron Man could have used a few more evil villains or Speed Racer could have made a lot more sense? Perhaps Prince Caspian was just too PG and bloodless for your tastes? Maybe Action movies just don’t get your blood pumping the way they should lately? Well, if you’re looking to take a break from Hollywood Blockbuster cinema and just want to get down to some old school, stunt filled, bone-breaking action, then Dragon Dynasty’s new DVD release of Flashpoint is for you.
While perhaps not reaching the heights of Hong Kong genre greats like Hard Boiled or Fist of Legend, this follow-up collaboration between Action star Donnie Yen and Director Wilson Yip after their hit Killzone is a red-blooded crime yarn with tons of twists and turn and a nonstop third act that will leave you breathless. Yen stars as Det. Sgt. Ma Jun, a Hong Kong cop with a bad reputation, but one that you‘ll come to love if you‘re an Action fan. Cut from the same cloth as Eastwood’s Harry Callahan and Chow Yun Fat’s Tequila Yuen, the detective prefers to let his fists do the talking for him, which more often than not has lead him into trouble with superiors.
This time though, Detective Jun’s antics have to be kept under control, as his partner Wilson (Louis Koo) has gone undercover with the city’s most corrupt Triads, three brothers lead by a man named Tony (Colin Chou). Throughout the movie’s first two thirds, this game of cat and mouse is a solid underworld saga, playing out like a pulpier version of Infernal Affairs, both cops having to risk their lives in order to bring the criminals down, neither of them coming out of it unscathed. Tony and his gang get so powerful that they are nearly completely above the law, with other crime bosses even completely unable to stop them, and bloody retribution coming to each that get in their way.
While I can say that these earlier portions of the movie are quite entertaining, they don’t have the incredible punch of Killzone or any of the classics brought about by John Woo or Johnny To, but when Yip and Yen finally cut loose, the movie absolutely brings the fire you’d been expecting. The last third of the movie is a nonstop rollercoaster of incredible gunfights and some of the best fight work done on screen in a decade. Yen does his best physical work ever here, with a brutality that truly brings his level up a place that nears the best fight scenes of Jet Li or Jackie Chan.
Also working as the movie’s fight choreographer, Yen brings authenticity to his battles by adding in mixed martial arts and the results are phenomenal. The fights have an energy that harkens back to Hong Kong’s cinema’s glory days, and it would be easy to say that Yen’s final 16 minute fight scene with Colin Chou matches up nicely with any fight scene of the last ten years on either side of Pacific. Set in an abandoned concrete structure, this is exactly the type of smack down that Hong Kong cinema lovers crave, exciting you with its creativity, grace, and utter ferociousness. We’re talking Fist of Legend/Drunken Master II/Ong Bak awesome here, an honor not bestowed lightly.
One can only hope that Wilson Yip can continue to bring the old school pleasures he‘s wrought with Flashpoint and Killzone. These movies remind us why we loved Hong Kong cinema in the first place and could bring a whole new generation to the genre in a way that no film maker has been able to achieve since John Woo and Tsui Hark left for Hollywood. Not perfect on all counts, Flashpoint’s bone breaking excellence will have you forgetting its faults by the time that Colin Chou and Donnie Yen bring your jaw to the floor with their fist cracking rumble.
The movie looks and sounds great on this DVD. The colors pop on screen, as the Hong Kong skyline gets a wonderful treatment on this disc, in all its Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 awesomeness. Also really nice is the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix, which lets you hear every gut punching impact with terrific clarity.
Feature Commentary with Star and Action Director Donnie Yen and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan – Of all the features on this 2 Disc set, this is without a doubt the best extra. Logan and Yen pack this track with wall to wall tidbits and Yen’s English is very fluent. It’s actually so fluent that it surprises me that Yen hasn’t tried to get more American parts, but if he keeps making films like Flashpoint, it matters not at all.
Collateral Damage: The Making of Flash Point – This featurette is a pretty standard “making of” with cast interview and some behinds the scene footage. The best stuff here is actually the footage of some of the stuff that went wrong during the film, showing exactly how tough this shoot really was.
Flash Point Explored – This is a much more effective featurette, going nearly half an hour and covering many different aspects of the movie. Yen talks a lot about how he really wanted to incorporate Mixed Martial Arts in the movie in order to make the fights in this film as authentic as possible. Wilson Yip and his cast also pick apart their characters, trying to really get to the core of each role in the flick and their motivations. This is one of the best features on the disc.
Perpetual Motion – Yen talks about how as a child he went to a Bruce Lee movie, and how he wanted to give Flashpoint the same type of exciting action. This is a short look at Yen’s stunt team and what they each brought to the picture.
Gladiators – This is basically the behind the scenes footage that is shown during the credits of the film, showing the amazing stunt work and choreography done on the film.
MMA on Display– Kea Wong actually goes to the gym that is featured in the film, and we get a demonstration on MMA and what exactly the sport entails.
On Dangerous Ground: An Exclusive Interview with Leading Man And Action Director Donnie Yen – This is an amazing interview with Yen, who talks about the different stages that Flashpoint went through as a production, originally plotted to be about underground fighting in Macao, but then forced to change when the government in Macao didn’t think that was a proper representation of their city. Yen also talks a lot about his relationship with Wilson Yip and his style of directing. Overall, this is a great feature on this disc and wholly entertaining for the entirety of its half hour.
Gala Premiere – This is a look at the film’s premiere.
Bottom line is, Flashpoint is a wallop of an action film, with one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed closing it out. Even though he’s been in the game for some time, Donnie Yen is really establishing himself as one of the elite Action stars crossovers from Hong Kong and his choreography is nearing par with Yuen Woo-Ping. On top of that, this is a disc with a nice array of extras touting how much terrific stunt work was done on this film.
Dragon Dynasty presents Flashpoint. Directed by Wilson Yip. Starring Donnie Yen, Colin Chou, and Louis Koo. Written by Kam-Yuen Szeto and Lik-Kei Tang. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: April 22, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.