Wind Blast (original Mandarin title - Xie Feng Lie) is an outstanding action movie set in the harsh beauty of Northern China, where the rocky, arid semi-desert begins to give way to the true desert of the Gobi. A low-level novice gangster has just made a hit, but has seen the face of the crime kingpin who ordered it, making him a target for elimination by the crimelord himself. The gangster and his pregnant girlfriend are on the run from both some of the triad's top guns and from the Chinese police, who are eager to finally learn the identity of the ultra-secretive crime kingpin.
The movie unfolds from the points of view of all three sides - the fugitives, the cops, and the high-level assasins - and adds to its action-packed self a bit more of an emotional/dramatic punch than some of its peers. The Asian action movies seem to hit those chords just right a bit more frequently than some of the ones from elsewhere. The action itself is, admittedly, not the most realistic ever set to film (but then there are far Less realistic examples out there too). What it does is set a context for itself - much like many of the Asian historical epics - where the extraordinarily highly skilled, highly stylized action seems to fit perfectly well within the movie, even if it's not how things would necessarily play out in 'our' world. Maybe this is better illustrated by citing an example where unrealistic action Doesn't work: if ou have a show where the ace bad guy is such a great shot that he can effortlessly nail every opponent dead on every time, but then when it comes to the key scene where a hero is sprinting across an open field for 6o seconds straight and the villain suddenly can't hit him with a machine gun, that comes off terrible. If instead though, you've just set a very high bar for what your characters can manage to do and then keep it consistent, those unrealistically high (though not neccesarily impossible) skills and feats can come off very well. It can also give you room to work in some really innovative, spectacular action sequences without totally blowing your credibility.
Wind Blast departs from the usual route of having one or two underdog heroes fighting against high odds and superior numbers. The good guys are very, very good at what they do, but in general it's the outnumbered Villains this time around who are even better. There's a definate reason why this team is considered among the most dangerous on the planet. The villains, of course, can also play dirtier and don't have to worry about things like not hurting the innocents who happen to be in the way (like the fugitive's girlfriend, who's only recently become aware of his criminal connections).
The movie manages an unusually high level of suspense and psychological tension. A couple of scenes even bring horror movies to mind - the nighttime assault by the assasins on several characters holed up in some old mining buildings is somehow remeniscent of something from Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated Edition) (although less gory in this case), and in the scenes in the old smuggler's hideout, there are touches about the place itself that are suggestive of something creepier and more cryptic than just an old lair where bandits used to lie low. I would actually love to see the makers of Wind Blast try their hands at a full-out horror movie.
But I'm getting off track now. The main points are that Wind Blast is a high-impact, suspeneful actioneer with a good story, interesting characters (all well-acted, too), good dramatic weight and very high production values, all set against a backdrop of China's visually striking, rocky grey north. In my mind, this is one of the most essential action movies to come out in a long time.