With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT is available today from Well Go USA

Well Go USA
As the Light Goes Out / Jiu huo ying xiong
Written and Directed by Derek Kwok
Starring Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Simon Yam & Andy On
Hong Kong, 2014, 115 minutes
In Cantonese with English subtitles available

As the Light Goes Out, Derek Kwok's take on courageous Hong Kong firefighters, debuts today on Blu-ray™ (SLP: $29.98), DVD (SLP: $24.98) and digital Nov. 18 from Well Go USA Entertainment. This review is based on watching the Blu-ray version.

The film begins, as so many recent Chinese films seem to do, with expository comments. In this case they pertain specifically to the dangers of thick smoke, which "is much more deadly than actual fire." Live action begins in December, 2012 when three firefighters -- Sam, Chill and Yip -- are being questioned as to who was responsible for countermanding an order not to proceed to a certain floor at a fire. Chill takes the blame, but without any real serious consequences. A year later, on Christmas Eve 2013, Yip has risen to be in command of a fire station. It's Sam's last day there, as he's being transferred, but Chill will be staying on.

Chill (foreground center) and Sam (right)

That day, there's a serious blaze at a winery to which the firemen at the station (including one veteran played by Simon Yam) respond. After taking care of it, they return to the station, but Sam is uneasy. He is concerned about the heat that was generated by the fire possibly endangering a nearby pipe carrying natural gas to a huge power station. Yang Lin, a female worker at the power station has similar concerns.

Wouldn't you know it, Yip, who is still Sam's superior, and Yang Lin's superior both are more concerned with "looking good" to their own superiors than with seriously considering the danger. Consequently, a major conflagration occurs, destroying the power station and plunging Hong Kong into a blackout on Christmas Eve. Naturally a number of individuals are caught inside the power plant and various firefighters engage in valiant efforts to rescue them.

As the Light Goes Out is not a bad action film, but it does suffer in several regards. First off, I found it somewhat hard to suspend disbelief in the wake of way too many coincidences. Everything that could possibly go wrong, does -- from the decisions of the cardboard cut-outs of the self-interested superiors at both the fire station and the power plant to the three youths (one of whom is the son of a firefighter!) who just happen to be left at the power plant and trapped inside. And let me not forget to mention that Typhoon Henry is approaching Hong Kong! Also, there are too many scenes of an individual about to fall to his death but saved at the last moment by an outstretched arm and hand. Finally, the melodrama is just way overwrought on several occasions.

The film does feature a funny self-referential cameo by Jackie Chan in a recruitment commercial for the fire department. This of course is a nod to his similar recruitment commercial for the police in the Police Story series.

The only extra on disc is a trailer for the film.

AsianCIneFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars; a bit better than fair, but beset with too many implausibilities to qualify as a good film.

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