Like the mixed martial arts it showcases, Flash Point espouses the belief that there’s nothing quite as entertaining as uninhibited brutality. And yet despite a conviction that cops should have every right to beat criminals to death with their bare hands, Wilson Yip’s film is surprisingly light on violence, offering up only a few tantalizing morsels of punching and kicking before the extended fisticuffs finale. Instead, the majority of this crime saga (set just before the 1997 Hong Kong handover) is spent detailing the clichéd, ho-hum efforts of two cops—kill-first, kill-second Sergeant Ma (Donnie Yen) and undercover officer Wilson (Louis Koo)—to take down three Vietnamese triad brothers who are up to some ill-defined no-good. Though technically a sequel to Yip and Yen’s S.P.L., knowledge of this predecessor isn’t required, since there’s no story here worth one’s serious attention. Conflicts, characters, and scenarios modeled on innumerable action films strain to fill out 87 minutes, while Yip dispenses car commercial-sleek visuals punctuated by extravagant zooms and slow motion. His attempt to make everything look superficially attractive, however, eventually gets away from him, as evidenced by the ridiculously gimmicky image of a senile woman throwing up during a car chase that’s shot from the viewpoint of the barf bag. Yen’s hero is like Dirty Harry on steroids, replete with endless justifications for his lethal methods (“Everything that I’ve done has been to maintain the peace”). And the few sequences in which he’s allowed to show off his combat skills—including an over-the-top fight that begins with the callous murder of a child, features the delivery of a vicious suplex, and ends with another callous murder—have a visceral muscularity. Yet even though the climactic showdown between Ma and nemesis Tony (Colin Chou) is impressively choreographed and pleasurably cheesy, it’s hardly enough to compensate for a story that’s, ahem, all flash and no point.
- Third Rail Releasing
- 87 min
- Wilson Yip
- Szeto Kam-Yuen, Nicholl Tang
- Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Fan Bing-bing, Ray Liu, Kent Cheng, Xing Yu, Xu Qing, Xia Ping, Lin Guo Bin, Luo Lan
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