Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Flash Point" (2007)

Starring Donnie Yen, Louis Koo and Collin Chou
Written by Szeto Kam-Yuen and Nicholl Tang
Directed by Wilson Yip
Rated R - Violence
Running Time: 88 Minutes

In 1997, just before the transition of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule, two detectives Ma Jun (Donnie Yen) and his partner Wilson attempt to take down a Triad gang.  Wilson has gone undercover in the gang led by three brothers: Tiger (Xing Yu), Archer (Ray Lui) and Tony (Collin Chou) who are organizing a massive drug deal to smuggle product from Vietnam.  Wilson lives in fear of being discovered as he gathers intelligence to use against the brothers.

When a rival drug smuggler agrees to testify against the brothers, the gang decides he needs to be taken out.  With their key witness dead, Ma and Wilson realize the only one who can take down Archer in court is Wilson.  Everything falls apart when Wilson is discovered to be a mole, beaten and left for dead.  Making a recovery with his girlfriend Julie (Fan Bingbing), Wilson becomes a target for the gang.

When his girlfriend is kidnapped and Wilson is blackmailed to give false testimony to save her, Ma and Wilson decide to take matters into their own hands.

"Flash Point" is a fairly middling Hong Kong martial arts action picture.  The late 1990s setting has no real impact on the story.  I can't see any reason why this couldn't take place in any other time period.  The plot isn't particularly engrossing; it's all fairly standard cops vs powerful gangs stuff, and the characters aren't particularly well-developed.

Since there's little in the story to grasp on to, the film really needs to deliver in its action sequences.  But even here, "Flash Point" doesn't have much of note to offer.  Donnie Yen is, as always, in fine form and delivers some brutal fight choreography that's actually pretty cool.  The problem is that there's simply too little of it in the movie.  There's a couple of brief fights sprinkled here or there throughout until the film reaches the climax and we finally get Yen unleashed.  The end fight is the longest and best one in the whole film.  Otherwise, there are a couple of neat chases, but mostly the film just isn't that interesting or fun to watch until the last fifteen minutes or so.

There's really not much else to say.  The characters are thin and cliched.  You've got two cops, one is scared his cover is going to be blown and the other has a temper.  The bad guys are typical sneering gangster villains.  Nothing to see here, move along.

Aside from a couple of decent fight sequences, "Flash Point" can be easily skipped.  It's too bad; the film certainly looks nice and when it does unleash the action it does so pretty well.  But it doesn't do it often or for long enough to sustain its weak story and characters for long.  Even at 88 minutes, "Flash Point" feels like it takes forever.