Hong Kong action cinema is maturing. Perhaps it is the influence of Western filmmaking … perhaps the filmmakers themselves have matured and are more proficient at the art of cinematic storytelling.
Twenty years ago director Clarence Fok’s latest thriller starring Donnie Yen, Special ID, would have been simply one of those “chop-socky” endeavors complete with endless fight sequences, bad dialog and a likely incoherent plotline.
That was then, this is now. The contemporary action films coming out of China these days (as opposed to the historical epics) are more nuanced … story and acting are as important as the fight “set pieces” — the characters even speak lines of dialog that make sense (and drive the story forward).
For purists, who are expecting nothing more than 90 minutes worth of kung fu combat, they need to come to the realization that Bruce Lee is dead.
In Special ID, due out on both DVD and Blu-ray on May 13 from Well Go U.S.A., action star Donnie Yen (IP Man, Bodyguards and Assassins, Painted Skin, Flash Point, etc.) plays Chen Zilong, an uncover cop who may be close to going over to the dark side. He’s so into his role as a triad thug that his boss (played Ronald Cheng) has grown worried … maybe it’s time to bring him out.
That opportunity arrives when a former gangland “friend” named Sunny (Andy On) takes to whacking mainland triad associates. Not only do the police want him to check things out, but ironically so do his current mob friends — they view the power-hungry Sunny as a threat.
Into this volatile mix comes Zilong’s new partner (for the case) Fang Jing (Tian Jing — Police Story 2013, The Warring States), a by-the-rules beauty who finds her partner’s unorthodox methods of police work to be more than disturbing. And his look, demeanor and “friends” even more so. Surviving this case will require speed, cunning … and trust!
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