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The creators of Kill Zone take action to the next level with a breakthrough combination of hard-hitting mixed martial arts battles and nail-biting tension. Kung fu legend Donnie Yen (Hero, Seven Swords, Ip Man) returns as the police force's most dangerous detective, building a case against a vicious trio of drug smuggling brothers. When evidence is destroyed and witnesses are murdered, he takes the fight directly to his enemies - no holds barred. Climaxing with a spectacular 16-minute bone-crunching showdown.
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Now when I say Donnie Yen style, it's cool and it's MMA (mixed martial arts). Well, at least he's always trying to act cool (as many reviewers will point out about Yen) and I guess it works, but its never necessary. Yen is so skillfull with his choreogrpahy and skill that that's plenty cool enough for me. Flashpoint is praised for its incredible fight action, but it will have to wait about an hour into the film for it to begin, When it does, it is intense and never lets up. The final 30 minutes of the film is the huge climax. Tensions and emoitons are at the highest (I want to say almost comparable to SPL at this point, and ironically the stories are somewhat similar as far as Yen's character is concerned). The tension can be felt in the fights, as the past hour of the film all comes together in what is to be a spectacular finish. There is a decent shootout that occurs throughout fields of grass before we see the big one on one between Donnie Yen and our main villain - Collin Chou (Matrix Sequals, Forbidden Kingdom). The fight lasts 8 minutes and is almost unlike anything I have seen. Even Yen and Chou stated that this fight was the most difficult and accomplished of their careers thus far. It is fast, furious, and complete with a few slow motion kicks and punches that all felt perfectly placed - you can almost feel the raw power behind a Donnie Yen knockout.
As good as the climax of Flashpoint may be, its the first hour that keeps it from being a perfect film. Though the story is interesting and worth watching to feel the true impact of the exciting conclusion, its still a slow ride that has almost no action to keep things moving. The characters, plot, script etc also don't have quite the effect of that in SPL, and the villain Collin Chou was basically an average villain without any unique qualities (until the last 30 minutes of the film!)
Despite the slow hour of the film, I can't stress enough how much it is still worth it when that last 30 minutes comes around. I'm not sure we'll see a fight quite like that again anytime soon. It is definelty worth buying this dvd and you will want to watch it several times as I already have. 4.5 Overall for exceptional martial arts action.
Acting - 3.5
Action - 5
Characters - 3.5
Dubbing - 3.5
Story - 3.5
Now to the movie review. If you liked the action at all in SPL (Killzone in US), then you are in for a real treat. The final fight in Flash Point is easily one of the best fight scenes ever filmed. Probably top 10. It is much better than Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung. At one point I thought I was watching a UFC match, except they aren't fighting in a cage and there are no rules. Donnie Yen is on his back kicking upwards and trying to block Collin Chou's punches, and he manages to grab hold of Chou's shirt and gets his legs around his neck. Almost choked out, Chou decides to bring Yen up and then slam him onto the ground. He slams Yen a few times, and it just keeps going back and forth like this nonstop. And the fight goes on for about 8 minutes! Fast and furious doesn't even begin to describe it. I have never seen anything like it before.
Donnie Yen was in an experimental stage during the late 90's and had some good and bad movies. Ballistic Kiss was horrible, but Legend of the Wolf was a wonderful piece of art. In SPL, Donnie mixed in some grappling and a few other techniques, but the final fight felt too choreographed and dancelike. Flashpoint focuses more on realism, but it is still very much focused on style. Donnie and his crew have perfected their style and are in my mind the top action crew in Hong Kong after making this.
The movie itself is nothing too special. It's your average cop drama and criminals are killing witnesses so they won't be charged with the crimes they committed. The relationship between Donnie Yen and his partner Louis Koo is very well done. Collin Chou gives a magnificent performance as the villain and newcomer Xing Yu is even better. Ray Lui rounds out the trio of villains and does a great job. These guys are truly scary.
Now to the special features. I will first go over the 2 Dragon Dynasty exclusives, and then the other special features.
- feature commentary from Donnie Yen and Bey Logan. How awesome is that? Do I really need to say anymore?
- 32 minute interview with Donnie Yen. That's right, 32 minutes. Great interview. He goes over so much about the movie it's incredible.
- Collateral Damage: The Making of Flash Point- a look behind the scenes and interviews with the actors and director Wilson Yip. 18 minutes, and very informative.
- Flash Point Explored- this is basically the same thing as the making of but longer and more indepth. 28 minutes.
There's a lot of other small features like the actors at a premiere, deleted scenes, training... but nothing great.
Synopsis partially derived from the DELTAMAC dvd back cover:
Pre-1997, a hero's story. The timeline is just before Hong Kong was turned back over to China. Police Inspector Jun Ma (Donnie Yen), Serious Crimes Unit. Inspector Ma is fast, precise and brutal - Ma is all-business, his superiors often doesn't agree with his methods. Ma detests crime and his life long nemeses are a Vietnamese gang of three brothers - eldest brother Archer, the bully; second brother Tony (Collin Chou), the cool calculator; youngest brother Tiger (Xing Xu), the fighter. Their skills have seen them grow steadily in the criminal world. In order to further infiltrate the gang and fight them from within, Ma has planted a mole, Wilson ( Louis Koo), who has managed to gain the complete trust of the gang and has become their personal bodyguard. Over the years Wilson has become more and more unhappy with Ma's impulsive and unruly style, their disagreements in their way of working has led to constant arguments and altercations.
Unlike Yip and Yen's other 2 collaborations, SPL and Dragon Tiger Gate, "Flash Point" is all business. It is a straight-forward action film, losing all excess "meat" like intricate storytelling and character development. Donnie Yen once again reprises his role as Inspector Ma, the film is made for Donnie Yen fans--it is all Donnie!! If you're an action fan, then this film will satisfy. The result is "more style than substance". At least, it is not pretentious to resort to canned melodrama, it doesn't attempt to impress with complex emotions and doesn't do anything fancy. It isn't a perfect film, it has a very simple motive: to entertain us with "popcorn" action entertainment.
One fault that the film may have is that the villains; Tony and Tiger are skilled martial artists in real life but they are pretty much one-dimensional villains with the usual stereotype. Although Tony (Collin Chou, Matrix Reloaded) is shown as a skilled fighter, his character is a bit uninteresting. Another is that the police force is so inept in protecting witnesses. It seemed so unreal that Wilson's girlfriend (Beautiful Fan Bing-Bing) would be so unprotected. Also, what is up with movies portraying cops as lacking in common sense? Sometimes, it really bothers me that movies nowadays, cops are being portrayed to be so untrained in dealing with dangerous situations just so the screenplay can get to where it wants to go. The plotline in Flashpoint is unimaginative and pretty routine. The plot is so stripped down that "simple" is an understatement.
Thankfully, to the film's credit, the film does deliver in the action sequences. Yen is his usual "COOL-over-acting" self. Yen is an actor who likes to show off and his acting abilities may oftentimes be lacking, Donnie Yen is still being Donnie Yen with his bit of over-acting. He eats up the screen with the film's final fight finale, Yen is intense and enraged, righteously focused and skillful in the encounter and most of all: Fonzie-cool. The Martial Arts fight is very well done, and stays within the realm of Inspector Ma's character in SPL. Yen uses the usual mixed martial arts style of Boxing, furious kicks and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The fights are fast-paced and visually stunning, it certainly entertains with maximum impact. As with SPL, the fights are filled with intensity that you could almost feel every bone-breaking hit (and misses). Collin Chou is to be credited that his caliber as a martial artist makes him a worthy opponent. Like him or not, Donnie Yen does have the presence of an intense, highly skilled fighter, he is quite convincing as a butt-kicking action hero. He is ultra-cool in the final fight finale, which in my observation, sometimes Donnie Yen tends to make to much effort in looking cool.
Action fans will definitely embrace "FLASHPOINT". It is far from perfect, but with its "pure" screen action sequences, it does entertain and is never boring. Sometimes, viewers just want action and the fight sequences on display is hard-hitting and tough enough to satisfy those fans. The plot is hollow and a bit sloppy; "FLASHPOINT" will definitely NOT unseat "SPL: Sha Po Lang" as the BEST Wilson Yip-Donnie Yen collaboration. With its truly unforgettable Yen-Wu Jing alleyway duel/Sammo Hung-Yen final fight, SPL outshines everything `Flashpoint" has to offer. As an action film, Flash Point is a satisfying enough diversion. This prequel could have been so much better, but thankfully, it is not much, much worse.
RECOMMENDED! For action fanatics...[4 stars]
Note: The Dragon Dynasty release will feature an English dubbed track. Hopefully it will also carry the fantastic 6.1 DTS-ES Cantonese Language track.
The threadbare story is barely serviceable for an 88-minute action movie, but what really matters here is action, which is a mixed bag. While "Flash Point" offers one gripping action sequence in the climax, there are not many action sequences worth mentioning in the first half of the film. You get just a few brief fight scenes, and nothing more.
The film wraps up with a long and exciting martial arts fight sequence. There we are finally allowed to see what a real professional like Donnie Yen can do, bone-crunching, visceral combat. The amazing fight sequence alone is worth your money. It is a pity that you have to wait for that very long, and when you get it, the film is almost over.
"Flash Point" is unique in employing a combination of various fighting style including kung-fu, boxing, wrestling and Muay Thai. With Donnie Yen's great skills as martial artist that is seen in the film's climactic fight sequence, "Flash Point" should have been a much better action movie.
This is the third collaboration of the star Donnie Yen and director Wilson Yip (after "Kill Zone" and "Dragon Tiger Gate"). They went on to make "Yip Man," which is a must for action film fans.
As to supporting players, Kent Cheng is nice as a supervising officer and Fan Bingbing is charming as Wilson's girlfriend, but they are not given much to do in the film's underdeveloped screenplay.
See "Flash Point" for one great martial arts combat sequence.
Feature Length Commentary with Donnie Yen/Bey Logan
Behind the Scenes Gallery
-Flash Point Explored
The Ultimate Fighters
-M.M.A On Display
-Interveiw with Donnie Yen
-Trailers, TV Spots, Teasers
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