With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ACF 104: "Flash Point" available on DVD

Flash Point / Dao huo xian
Directed by Wilson Yip
Hong Kong, 2007, 88 min

This fabulous Hong Kong action film, which enjoyed a limited theatrical release in the U.S. this past March, came out on DVD earlier this week. Flash Point again united director Wilson Yip and actor Donnie Yen, whose previous work together includes 2006's Dragon Tiger Gate and 2005's Kill Zone (a.k.a. SPL).

Yen (who also produced and served as Action Director) stars as Jun Ma, a "righteous" detective in the Serious Crimes Unit. He's a tough-as-nails type who has no problem laying a heavy dose of whoop-ass on the bad guys. His employment of excessive violence has resulted in numerous complaints. His department superiors are none too happy about his methods, though they can't deny the results achieved.

The film is set in 1997, just before the handover of Hong Kong to the Mainland. In my original review I speculated that this was done to avoid suggesting that police would use such techniques in Communist China. In the available commentary (more on that later), Donnie Yen pretty much confirms this, while adding that the film also wanted to avoid suggesting that such criminal activity could even exist in Hong Kong after the turnover.

Donnie Yen (left) and Louis Koo face off in a night club

Wilson (Louis Koo) is an undercover cop who has infiltrated a gang led by three vicious Vietnamese brothers. When eldest brother Archer Sin (Lui Leung-wai) is arrested, Tony (Collin Chou), the middle brother, and Tiger (Xing Yu), the youngest, go on a rampage of intimidation, kidnapping and murder to secure Archer's release.

The fighting scenes are terrific. The film culminates in over fifteen minutes of confrontation that starts out with weapons and ends with a one-on-one extended fight sequence between detective Ma (Yen) and Tony (Chou). If this doesn't satisfy your "jones" for action, I don't know what will.


Collin Chou (left) and Yen in the climactic fight scene

Flash Point is another outstanding "Two-Disc Ultimate Edition" release from Dragon Dynasty. I've listed all the special features at the end of this review, but want to draw your attention to some of them.

First off, the feature length commentary is terrific. It's like sitting in a screening room with Yen and Bey Logan, who's done numerous other commentaries on Dragon Dynasty releases and who is incredibly knowledgeable. You'll not only learn about the film, but also about the ongoing hardship of filming in Hong Kong, such as the difficulty of obtaining street permits and the need to shoot around actors' schedules on other projects that are filming simultaneously. You definitely should check this out when you're ready for a second viewing of the film.

The Behind-The-Scenes Gallery consists of three featurettes, not stills, about the film. They're quite good.

The Gladiators segment in The Ultimate Fighters section is a non-stop montage of intense action scenes from the film itself and from rehearsals. Crank it up for an adrenaline rush.

M.M.A. on Display features a young Asian woman learning some basic Ultimate Fighter moves. M.M.A. stands for Mixed Martial Arts, the fighting style that combines methods from different disciplines and which is the basis of Yen's action directing here. This segment takes place in the Hong Kong gym where the film's opening sequence was shot and is in English. (Aside from this and the commentary, the extras are in Chinese with English subtitles available).

There are two basic styles of fighting: striking and grappling. In M.M.A., fighters cross-train, so that a practitioner of one style learns how to employ, as well as defend against, the tactics of other styles. Muay Thai, which uses fists, elbows, knees, and feet (go watch Ong-Bak, if you haven't already), is the primary striking style utilized. Grappling usually consists of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or submission wrestling. While M.M.A. is addressed in the film commentary and some of the other special features, I found this segment particularly interesting and informative.

Flash Point is great entertainment, a real shot-in-the-arm for fans of Hong Kong action. The film gets a 3.5 out of 4 star rating, and the extras in the 2-Disc DVD package earn 4 out of 4 stars.

Special Features:
Disc 1
Feature length commentary with Donnie Yen and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan
Disc 2
Behind-The-Scenes Gallery
- Collateral Damage: The Making Of Flash Point
- Flash Point Explored
- Perpetual Motion
The Ultimate Fighters
- Gladiators
- M.M.A. On Display
Promotional Gallery
- On Dangerous Ground (an interview with Donnie Yen)
- Gala Premiere
- Trailers, Teases, TV Spots
Deleted Scenes

My original review of the theatrical release of Flash Point, from which some of the above was taken, ran in ACF: 086.

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