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Detective Sergeant of Serious Crimes Unit, Jun (Donnie Yen), detests crime and his lifelong nemeses are three Vietnamese brothers - Archer, Tony and Tiger. In order to further infiltrate the gang and fight them from within, Jun has planted a mole, Wilson (Louis Koo), who has managed to gain the complete trust of the gang. However, Wilson`s dual role is exposed and resulting battles leave him handicapped for life. Still, he chooses to testify against them in court. Things take another turn for the worse when Wilson`s girl (Fan Bing Bing) is kidnapped by the gang.
: 2 Aug 2007
1 Hour 30 Minutes
: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang
Watch this if you liked:
"SPL", "Dragon Tiger Gate"
In an indulgent piece of explosions-over-emotions, Director Wilson Yip and martial arts actor Donnie Yen team up again, as I read that this was at one point supposed to be an "SPL" sequel. The similarities are obvious - complicated kungfu manoeuvres with a requisite dose of action wire assistance being shot over short takes with Donnie Yen's distinct 'dirt and dust' choreography. How then does this 90-minute actioner seem so stretched?
While the elements of the hand-to-hand combat are now more diverse (note what must be tomoi influences in the kneeing scenes), a martial arts movie fan must demand more from Donnie, who seems to have graduated from teaching Wesley Snipes to kick ass in the "Blade" movies to showing himself up as a limited actor in every new movie. Sure, our man can kick bad guy behinds from here to Causeway Bay but has he acted well enough for us to want him to win?
The skinny: Maverick cop Jun (Donnie Yen) seriously hates criminals for some unexplained reason and his lifelong nemeses are three Vietnamese brothers who are actually quite alright (filial sons, too) if not for the fact that they really get off on killing people. After maiming Jun's mole (Louis Koo), they kidnap his chick too (Fan Bing Bing) and Jun must go and destroy them, armed with his fearsome man-tits and occasionally, his kungfu skills.
Funny how that paragraph was so long because this is essentially a one-sentence movie - Donnie Yen fights bad guys. "SPL" succeeded in becoming substantial only because of Sammo Hung's acting dimensions and Simon Yam's charisma. Here they had the opportunity to use the versatile Louis Koo more but like many other peripheral roles in this movie, every character's relevance is built around the fight logic and not the other way around. Purists might even scream blue murder if they caught that brief part where Donnie seemingly uses his thumbs to rub his nose a la Bruce Lee, the one martial arts actor that fans unanimously revere.
I felt very pleased that the last 20 minutes of the show, where Donnie fights Tony, came when it did, because it served to confirm my suspicions that this is purely a Donnie Yen vehicle. How did such a (previously) charismatic bad guy fight so badly and for so long at that? It was laughable because that entire scene glorified Donnie beyond rational film logic and reduced his opponent to a rechargeable rag-doll, powered for Donnie Yen's punchbag needs.
So, our best bet is to rewatch "The Invisible Target" or ask Donnie to stop posing around like a model (like Louis Koo did in the film) and develop some sort of motivation behind his characters. We should also ask him to keep his shirt until he figures it out.
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