Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Flashpoint

Once again, kung fu legend Donnie Yen (Hero) and director Wilson Yip (SPL) team up for a second collaboration. Unfortunately, while th film made me discover Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), I thought that the film missed something in the script. Of course, the film is entertaining, but when you're past the half part of the film, the story starts to look more and more like a Western taking place in a society where there's no law. Anyway, SPL was way better than this as far as I'm concerned.

Detective Ma (Donnie Yen) has a partner, Wilson (Louis Koo), who went undercover in Hong Kong's most ruthless crime syndicate. As many evidences are gathered against this crime syndicate, other witnesses and Wilson are to testify in courts so that the criminals can be imprisoned. Unfortunately, these "evidences" are destroyed as Wilson is the only witness alive. In order to protect his partner, Det. Ma decides to personally take down the crime syndicate.

Although the film is not that bad, the problem that it has is that it's trying to do so many things at the same time. Hence, the feeling that the script is somehow incomplete although it has a lot of potential. For instance, while the movie's pace is a little bit slow at the beginning, Flashpoint seems to explore a rather interesting avenue: 1) Det. Ma's lack of qualms to beat criminals to a pulp to crack his cases and 2) his superiors' reservations for these kind of methods even though they admire Ma for being the cop with the most complete investigations in Hong Kong. As we see it, this is the reason why Ma is summoned before a discipline committee at the beginning of the film.

However, as we're in Flashpoint's captivating second half, the scriptwriters didn't elaborate that much on what the main characters think about police ethics. In fact, as many witnesses - who are to testify in a trial against a member of the crime syndicate - die, the scriptwriters are more preoccupied to display Ma's obvious desire to personally take down the crime syndicate. Nonetheless, at that point, we wonder if Det. Ma still believes in traditional justice, that is gathering evidences (through witnesses) to imprison criminals. Therefore, this film doesn't have the dramatic tension that you found in The Dark Knight in which the characters test their belief in traditional justice versus vigilantism.

While he's not necessarily an incompetent director, Wilson Yip (SPL) approaches the story only to focus on Flashpoint's entertaining nature. In fact, in the movie's second half, the storyline ceases to develop the tough relation between Ma and his superiors. Secondly, we don't get to know that much about Ma's superiors ambivalent attitude toward him. Anyway, that's what happens when your dialogues are thin and your story is more action-driven than character-driven.

Finally, for all that's right about the film, the performance by the cast is rather okay - given that the script needed a little bit more development - and the fight scenes will amaze you. No wonder choreographer Donnie Yen won this year's Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Action Choreography! All in all, if you leave aside these elements, Flashpoint is just one of those movies that could have been a little bit better. By the way, the final fight between Donnie Yen and Collin Chou is probably one of the best fights I've ever seen.

Rating: 2.5/5


Flashpoint
Hong Kong (2007)
Length: 88 minutes
Genre: Police drama
Screenplay: Tang Lik-Kei et Szeto Kam-Yuen
Director: Wilson Yip
Starring: Donnie Yen, Collin Chou and Louis Koo

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