Dragon Dynasty has been a godsend to anyone with a flavor for Asian Cinema. Whereas cruddy releases and bootlegs had been the source for anyone who wanted to see the exploits of Jackie Chan, Jet Li and other legends of Asian cinema in their native countries, now Dragon Dynasty (a joint venture by The Weinstein Company and Genius Products) has brought an obscene amount of great films to American audiences in good DVD quality. Their latest product: Invisible Target from one of the best directors in Asia, Benny Chan.
A gang called the “Ronin Gang,” led by Tien Yeng-seng (Wu Jing), has hijacked $100 million in cash from an armored truck, amongst other things, and three unlikely cops come together to bring the gang down. All three have different reasons to be there. Chan Chun (Nicholas Tse) saw his fiancée gunned down by the gang. Inspector Carson Fong Yik-wei (Shawn Yue) led some of the men that were killed by the gang. Wai King-ho (Jaycee Chan) is the brother of an officer who has disappeared and with police allegations that his brother has become part of the gang he’s been suspended. He forms an alliance with the two, who are seeking revenge, in order to clear his brother’s name.
It’s a throwback film to the heyday of the “Heroic Bloodshed” genre, when John Woo ruled the Hong Kong cinema with lots of violence and minimal drama, and Invisible Target goes great with Hard Boiled and the like. There’s terrific music scored for the film, to give it a timeless feel, as well as the film’s action sequences include top notch martial arts work and some terrific gun fights. In terms of being a visual spectacle it’s terrific. If one forgets about the plot and focuses on the action you won’t be disappointed, but that’s not to say the film has a bad story to it.
It’s not Chan’s best work, plot wise, but it’s serviceable for what he needs. It’s a pretty generic crime story, nothing that will reinvent the genre or even push it in a new direction in terms of characters, but it’s developed well enough to be interesting and thrilling. This is a tight film, if a bit generic, but it hits all the right notes that it has to. This isn’t a plot-driven film; it’s all about the action. Even down to how Chan uses his main cast.
The film isn’t dialogue heavy, given that his actors aren’t master thespians, but he manages to use their ability to convey emotion with looks and glances effectively that he doesn’t need as much dialogue. It’s top notch work by relatively inexperienced actors; Chan lets them own their characters by letting them breath in their skin, as opposed to settling them with loads of clunky dialogue. A glance, a movement, a way of fighting, all do more to build their characters than he could by developing them with dialogue. It’s interesting to watch because of what they do, now what they say.
Invisible Target is a fun action film with a crime setting. A bit long at over two hours, it’s a nice salute to the good old days of Hong Kong action when lots of gunfire, martial arts, and explosions were still relatively new plot points.
Presented in a Dolby Digital surround with a widescreen presentation, the film’s transfer is flawless. The film itself looks beautiful and it comes through wonderfully on the DVD. The bright colors are exceptional and come through cleanly and clearly, and the film’s use of murkier colors comes through wonderfully as well. The sound is exceptional as well, taking full advantage of the format.
There are two discs to this collection, the second comprising of special features only.
Trailers for Dragon Dynasty releases Flash Point, Fatal Contact , The Protector and WWE DVD The Rock: The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment, as well as both trailers for this film, are included.
Orchestrated Mayhem: The Making of Invisible Target is a look at making the film. Benny Chan wanted to make an action film with a truer martial arts sense to it, as opposed to an action film in the crime genre, and wanted to incorporate more styles of Hong Kong film-making into what he did.
There’s also a Commentary Track from the cast and Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
Interview Gallery is a collection of interviews with the principles of the film. Benny Chan, Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue, Wu Jing, Philip Ng, Vincent Sze and Andy On and are rather in depth. Given plenty of time, you get to hear so much about the filming process from all the major principles as well as unique things like how all the actors did most or all of their action scenes because Benny Chan wanted to go back to the 1990s, when films continually raised the bar and actors contributed as much as they possibly could.
Fight for the Glory: Constructing the Action Sequences for Invisible Target follows the construction of the film’s signature action sequences by everyone involved. It’s interesting to see the attention to detail used, as well as the actors jumping headfirst into it, as well as the sheer volume of work they did for each stunt. They show at least five warm up attempts at the stunt using padding, then going further away from safety and into the element of danger. The actors are very much confident in their abilities, but they’re honest enough o discuss the potential for mistakes with some candor.
There’s a Storyboard Comparison in which you can see the action sequences side by side with the finished product.
Deleted/Extended Scenes come with commentary from Benny Chan. Mainly the reason why most of them were cut is due to time considerations. Chan had a certain length he wanted and he needed to cut a good chunk of material to get there.
For fans of Asian cinema, and action movie junkies of every nationality, Invisible Target is a must own as a film as well as a DVD. The extras are what we’ve come to expect from the Dragon Dynasty line, the a/v outstanding the film itself is a nice throwback to the glory days of Hong Kong cinema.
Dragon Dynasty presentsInvisible Target. Directed by Benny Chan. Starring Jaycee Chan,Wu Jing, Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue. Written by Benny Chan, Rams Ling, Melody Lui. Running time: 129 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 10, 2008. Available at Amazon.com