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導火線 (2007)
Flash Point

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 10/26/2010
Summary: Hard boiled

I'm not sure when the law was passed stating that Donnie Yen has to be in every HK movie, but some time before 2007 I guess. Flash Point is another of his collaborations with Wilson Yip, who seems to have brought out or discovered a more mature Donnie Yen than the preener of old. Flash Point is a sincere effort to recapture the 'Golden Age' of HK cinema - the one in the 80's when people like Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan were defining a new style of modern day action and martial arts films.

There is a plot, of some description... good guys vs. bad guys, justice and revenge and all that, but it's barely important. It serves its primary purpose of giving a context to the action scenes well enough. And the action scenes are great - some nicely done gunplay, and some really impressive hand to hand combat scenes, with some brutal full-contact brawling. The finale, an extended brawl between Donnie & Ngai Sing is one of the best one-on-one fights that's been filmed in a while, despite a little too much undercranking (which Donnie has, thankfully, toned down in recent years most of the time).

It's not going to win any dramatic oscars, but for action fans it is certainly an essential view.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: bkasten
Date: 03/15/2010

Once again, the most pissed-off man in Hong Kong takes center ring in this Wilson Yip directed ultra-violent angst-filled beat-em-up, with the by-now-typical formula pioneered in previous Donnie vehicles.

Apart from the Donnie-beats-the-living-shit-out-of-triad-bad-guys-as-a-vigilante-police-officer, we also have Louis Koo occupying the dramatic lead placeholder--standing in for Simon Yam (who must have been busy working on one of his direct-to-video magnum opii). Louis, in atypical fashion, manages to be the highlight of the "film" aspect of this film, with a finale that passes as "The Terminator" homage. Indeed, his overall performance ranks among the better in his long and illustrious career.

And of course, what would a Donnie-beats-guys-up film be without a flower pot damsel-in-distress role? Bingbing Fan fits perfectly here with absolutely stunning screen presence, and a smile that could vaporize iron. The bad guys better not touch her, or else!

And lastly, the then 40-year old Collin Chou as the baddie heavy looks fabulous with his undercranked jumping reverse roundhouse kicks in the spectacularly long finale with Uncle Donnie.

Oh!...and lest we forget...there is an actual (albeit thin) story!...and some minimal character development between Fan and Koo. But, c'mon...does anyone actually care? Of course not. In fact, there is very little to truly "care" about here. The bad guys leave the audience seething with anger, and viewers are left hoping for Donnie-delivered money shots in the form of merciless beatings to the bad guys.

In terms of execution and looking-good, this film delivers in a fashion similar to films like SPL. And although I do not quite believe it had the initial impact that film had, this has somewhat more credibility overall as a film (a term whose usage here is a stretch).

It's pure old school with a modern wrapper.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 08/23/2009

Hong Kong cop Ma (Donnie Yen) tries to take down a ruthless Triad gang led by three Vietnamese immigrants. Helping him is his partner Wilson (Louis Koo), who is working undercover in the gang. When one of the leaders gets arrested, the others start wiping out suspects one by one until only Wilson remains. When the Triad bosses discover Wilson’s true identity, Ma is forced to wage war against the gang to save his friend.

I’m probably the last person claiming to be a Hong Kong film fan to actually see this film. I don’t know why, but I’ve always put it off. Well, I’ve got a good idea it’s the title. FLASH POINT is one of the best examples of the brainless two-word action film titling I can think of. It means nothing, is instantly forgettable and was probably decided by rolling a pair of dice and consulting a list of “tough words”. Moreover, the film’s plot reeks of generic unoriginality, and Donnie Yen has always been a bit patchy for my liking.

Well, the good news (and you probably all know this already) is FLASH POINT is actually really good. Yes, the story is unoriginal and by-the-numbers, but the mix of Triad drama and high action works better than you’d think.

Originally conceived as a prequel to the hugely successful SPL (and with both director Wilson Yip and star Donnie Yen on board), the film is set in 1997 Hong Kong, just before the takeover. The first half runs like a straight Triad thriller (albeit slightly confusing until you get a grip on the story) with almost no action at all, while the second half is almost all action. While this could have killed the film stone dead, the characters get room to breath and the viewer gets the chance to bond or despise them as appropriate.

The supporting cast are workmanlike and there isn’t really a memorable character amongst them, apart from Louis Koo’s mole in the underground gang. Elsewhere Fan Bing-Bing pops up to play a totally undemanding damsel in distress girlfriend role, and Kent Cheng demonstrates just why you should never put aluminium foil in a microwave. It’s a good job then that Donnie Yen and his choreography saves the day – despite him not actually grabbing much screen time early on in proceedings.

One can only wonder why Yen hasn’t performed action choreography like this through his entire career, but the fights in FLASH POINT are simply breathtaking. Unlike the Yip/Yen collaboration it followed, DRAGON TIGER GATE, the special effects do not get in the way of the enjoyment of the fights and while there simply had to be a bunch of CGI shots in there, most check out cerebrally. This film includes some of the most dangerous looking stunt and combat scenes I’ve seen from Hong Kong since the days of Jackie Chan’s 80s hey-day and I have to admit I loved every full-contact second of it.

When the dust settled and the ending credits rolled, I couldn’t help comparing this with SPL, and deciding that FLASH POINT wasn’t quite as satisfying as a film experience. Despite that, it is a hugely enjoyable film and the bone-breaking action scenes will keep me coming back for more.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 06/27/2009
Summary: Donnie Yen breaking new ground once again!

To this very day, I still marvel at FLASH POINT for its fantastic and original action sequences (including the gunfights). Not only are these scenes so well choreographed, well thought out, creatively and wonderfully shot and intensified but they have incredibly great duration in terms of quality and entertainment. SPL, DRAGON TIGER GATE (call me crazy but imm the action in that is as original, though not as satisfying, as those movies), LEGEND OF THE WOLF, THE TWINS EFFECT, BALLISTIC KISS; all these movies has led me to believe that no one else in Hong Kong today can cream out high-energized and top-notch MA choreography like Donnie. FLASH POINT should easily back this up!

As great as the action is, unfortunately, everything else isn't particularly so. Ever since watching it the first time, the movie has dropped quite alot of quality and what you get is nothing more than a potboiler that has some interesting topics to show and tell but just ends up being one anyway because of the thin and clichéd story and of the pacing (typical of action movies). Perhaps it would've been better to let the movie be longer, as it was originally supposed to be. The acting is varied; from the usual hardcore-ish Donnie (he's able to show little diversity though which is good), the relaxing and comfortable Collin Chou (the best actor in the movie) to the problematic and complicated Louis Koo, the aggravated Xing Yu and friendly Kent Cheung, but that's all fine with me. Wilson Yip's stylish and captivating direction, the cinematography, the music, and the overall good production values keeps this from being a complete boredom (for me at least) though.

Overall, I can't help but think that Donnie and Wilson have lost artistic value since making SPL and this (along with DRAGON TIGER GATE) certainly shows it. Despite that, it doesn't make FLASH POINT any worst nonetheless because the movie, as I said, contains some good and interesting themes, has a good message and, of course, Donnie Yen unleashing the best MA performance of his career, surpassing both SPL and DRAGON TIGER GATE and still stands as the best and most original in HK or in general these days.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/16/2008
Summary: bone-jarring

Martial arts performer Donnie Yen Ji-Dan and director Wilson Yip Wai-Shun team up to present bone-jarring cinematic experience. Blows to the bodies and heads of the participants resonate aurally and visually in a protracted film editing experiment that will cause you to winch and duck your head. This film was chosen for inclusion in the 2008 Film Comment Selects program that unspools at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Nice to see Teresa Ha Ping and Helena Law Lan in interesting supporting roles in such a macho environment. This movie was great to see on the big screen.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/01/2008
Summary: both flashy and pointy...

inspector ma (donnie yen) is a no nonsense, if slightly over-zealous, hong kong cop, whose record of arrests, is matched only by the number of injuries that he inflicts on suspects. wilson (louis koo), his partner, has been working undercover with three vietnamese brothers, who are extremely vicious. however, when it looks like ma and wilson are about to get their men, they turn things up and start to wipe out all witnesses...

yeah, so it's not exactly a ground breaking narrative, but it is very well executed. the first half of the film is a nice mixture of bad boys, being bad, with a nice tense atmosphere being created, as you wonder if louis koo is going to be exposed as an undercover cop. the second half of the film is filled with anger, revenge and some quality action.

yen and koo fit in with the slick production values but, as usual, louis is more than just a pretty boy going through the motions, donnie seems to add an edge to his posing and performance, whilst impressing with his physical performance. now, i liked 's.p.l.', but 'flash point' is just better and feels more like an old school slice of hong kong. the narrative and action gel together nicely, support from the likes of kent cheng and fan bing bing add a touch of class, and the fight sequences mesh brutality and flair with great success.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 02/22/2008
Summary: Donnie Yen steps it up again...

Three brothers from Vietnam are quickly becoming the most powerful force in Hong Kong, and Inspector Ma (Donnie Yen) has set his sights on taking them down in this follow up "prequel" to the enormously entertaining SPL. Tony (Collin Chou) is the lead brother in this gang, along with Archer (Ray Lui) and Tiger (Xing Yu from King Fu Hustle). Wilson (Louis Koo) is an undercover cop who has infiltrated their group and continuously tips off Ma to their plans. When Wilson's true identity is discovered, the brothers slowly begin to pick off anyone that can testify against them, setting their sites finally on Wilson and his new-found girlfriend (Fan Bing Bing).

In my review of SPL, I mentioned that I hoped that it would bring back the classic action of Hong Kong films from the 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, it looks like we simply have to wait for Wilson Yip/Donnie Yen collaborations to bring us that level of enjoyment. Yen again shows us why he is quickly becoming the premiere action choreographer working today, with an incredibly entertaining style of kung fu that includes many of the trends seen today in the world of mixed martial arts. Flash Point is a very exciting action picture, with a nod towards the intrigue of Infernal Affairs and the high-tension drama of undercover police work. There are many scintillating action sequences and the screen presence of Yen continues to shine with every subsequent film. As mrblue mentions, the final fight between Yen and Chou rivals some of the best ever filmed, with 20 minutes of non-stop brutal limb-wrenching action. Chou is a worthy opponent for Yen in both the fighting and charisma arena, and he adds to a film that should be seen by any fan of Hong Kong cinema.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 01/08/2008

Donnie Yen's always kind of been the red-headed stepchild of Hong Kong movies. Any action fan worth their salt certainly can't deny his martial arts talent. He's been in a number of classics of the genre, most notably Once Upon a Time in China 2, where he squares off against Jet Li in one of the finest fight scenes ever filmed.

But there's always been something holding him back from becoming a true mega-star. Most accounts would point to Yen himself, whose attitude on the set has been difficult to say the least on some productions. However, in the past few years, Yen's hubris looks to have subsided a bit and he seems to have found a copasetic directorial partner with Wilson Yip (SPL, Dragon Gate).

So his latest project, Flash Point, has been met with a great deal of anticipation by action junkies. Rest assured, it's not only a solid movie, but it has some of the best fight scenes put out by a Hong Kong production since the much-ballyhooed "golden age" of the mid-1980's to early 1990's. Yeah, it's that damn good.

I'm not even really going to go into any sort of details about the plot. It's the typical throwaway stuff you see far too often in movies like this. And frankly, for the first portion of the proceedings, you might find yourself going for the fast-forward button. But just hang on -- you're in for a great ride.

Like a lot of the pictures from the golden age, Flash Point hold back until the final act, and then it's on like Donkey Kong. This is balls-to-the-wall stuff that will have you yelling like a little kid seeing a Bruce Lee movie for the first time. The final fight between Yen and Ngai Sing (aka Collin Chou) ranks right up there with the Jackie Chan/Ken Lo brawl from Drunken Master II.

Yes, dear readers, I'm serious with that last statement. Flash Point not only proves that Hong Kong action cinema isn't dead, but it still has the ability to slap you upside the head and make you ask for more, all the while with a huge smile on your face. Do yourself a favor and see this movie now. You won't be disappointed.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/20/2007
Summary: Donnie Yen rules action at the moment

Apart from Jet Li, there doesnt seem to be anyone in hong kong making movies like this. All out action movies are rarely made at the moment. Donnie Yen is finally make a big name for himself.

But i felt that the movie's plot was just there to lead up to the fighting!! Ben Lam seemed wasted in his part. Kent Cheng was barely there though a nice touch. Ngai Sing and Ray lui (underrated i feel, he was more famous in the past and i hope he does well with establishing himself again) seemed to be the more dominate characters in the movie than Donnie Yen and Louis Koo (he was in the movies just to look good right?)

Once again Donnie Yen employs wrestling/grappling techiniques which is exciting and different to watch. One move looked like Street Fighter 2's Guile throwing moves!! That was GREAT!!

If compared to SPl, i prefer SPL,which has a better atmosphere and style to it. For those action starved fans, come watch this movie!!

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: steve_cole1
Date: 10/18/2007
Summary: Good Film but....

This was a good film but i would still rather watch SPL again as on a whole there were better actors and fights . I thought there was bit too much needless violence in this like throwing a kid across a restruant onto the pavement .However the last fight however unrealistic it was made up for the other flaws as it was excellent.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: PAUL MARTINEZ
Date: 09/18/2007
Summary: Action HK Style

I find that usually I enjoy Donnie Yen's work more than most. Maybe because I miss those early 90s action films that was his forte. Well Flash Point is a throwback to those great films. Heavy on the violence, simple on the plot.

The often used out-of-control cop chasing down the over the top evil bad guys story is done so very well here. There are some flashes of character development but not so much as to flesh out the plot as it was to let viewers catch their collective breath between some high-octane fight scenes.

Donnie does a good job as the cop, Ma. While Louis Koo is OK but not great as his mole in the baddies camp. Collin Chou really steals the show from an acting standpoint as he really brought in a little realism to his role. Fan Bing Bing was breathtaking. I wish she was given a little more of a part in this. I look forward to seeing her again. Kent Cheng also turned in a good perfromance as usual.

The fight scenes were fantastic especially the use of MMA fighting techniques by Donnie Yen. It was new and fresh and really made the fights seem even more brutal. I expect to see this start a trend of action films using similar fight choreography.

Overall I was very pleased with this latest effort fron the SPL team. I hope to see more of these old school style cop action films in the future.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 09/18/2007
Summary: Donnie Delivers Again

Hooray for Donnie ! Having taken on the task of reviving fu/action films in HK, this is a more than worthy effort.

Better than the much-lauded SPL and only slightly behind the stunning Dragon Tiger Gate, Flash Point is everything a good HK actioner should be - well-paced, gory, full of smouldering stares, and of course plenty of high-standard fu and biffo.

The opening sequence promises much and it excites, but the pace eases off a bit. Then it looks like Donnie is becoming a bit introspective. Could this be a big let-down ? Things do get a little confusing, when we are told the action starts in early 1997 (pre-handover), but these dips in the pace are necessary rest-breaks from the slam-bang action sequences, which are both thrilling and exhausting to watch. And they even contain some character development, and worthy performances from the support cast, especially the perennial Kent Cheng.

Nothing all that unusual about the story. Donnie plays Inspector Ma, a kind-of Dirty Harry on serious steroids. I found the performances of Donnie and Louis convincing, even if a bit shallow. The baddies, led by Ngai Sing, were thoroughly despicable.

Unusually for recent HK actioners, this one has quite a lot of rural locations, and the cinematography is gorgeous. And speaking of gorgeous, Fan Bing Bing is a joy to behold. I hope this radiant actress is given bigger roles in future, and is given more to do. Although not exactly in the background, her character here is a bit on the passive side.

And something that is often overlooked - the background music sets the tone perfectly, and helps very much to get the heart racing at the appropriate times.

Some nit-picks :

Some of the fight scenes stretch credibility way past breaking point, especially the climatic scene. Any one of those kicks to the head would be lethal to any normal human. It is impossible to believe that even a seasoned tough guy could keep getting up after such persistent punishment. Mind you, this is not unusual for HK actioners.

The out-takes alongside the closing credits, while interesting, do distract from the serious and even solemn tone of the movie.

But don't let these distract you. If you love action, and can handle a bit of gore, then this one is a heart-pumping winner. Strongly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: kiliansabre
Date: 08/20/2007
Summary: A Worthy Modern Actioner

Donnie Yen's third collaboration with Wilson Yip (following Dragon Gate and SPL) is much more grounded than the previous two films. The plot involves Donnie Yen who is a fast-to-fight cop trying to tackle a gangs of Triads who are quickly rising to power (featuring Collin Chou as the main martial arts baddie). When his undercover, played only halfway convincingly by Louis Koo, is discovered things take a turn for the worst for all involved. With the police force holding back, it's up to Ma Jun (Yen) to take things into his hands and decide how far he is willing to go to bring an end to the Triads and save his friends.

The first thirty seconds of the film would have you believe this is a hard hitting actioner all the way through; the fighting starts almost immediately. However it isn't until almost the end of the movie that the action really kicks in, but the last twenty minutes is a fury of guns and fists, culminating into a blistering fight scene between Yen and Chou. There is no focus on wires here, instead we are treated to a mix of grappling and hand to hand combat. Yen is in top form, he had apparently dedicated some good time training and it shows; the end credits show sequences of Yen training which is impressive stuff on its own. There is a solid attempt at characterization in this film though Yen is probably the strongest actor at bat here. The plot lines are enough to make us ponder the moral ramifications of the characters actions, though they don't really give much extra impact to the story itself. Overall I enjoyed this a lot more than SPL or Dragon Tiger Gate - it definately feels more authentic and less flashly, which is the perfect progression for Yen.

Reviewer Score: 7