LYT's Film Pick of the Weekend 3-14-08


This is, admittedly, a slightly qualified pick. I wanted to pick DOOMSDAY, but the fact that it didn't screen for review even to the geek websites is a really bad sign. As is the fact that it stars Rhona Mitra. And that Malcolm McDowell seems to have been removed from all advertising materials -- was he embarrassed?

I'd also like to be able to pick HORTON HEARS A WHO, but I just have this sinking feeling that Dr. Seuss has been Shrekified, and that would make me sad. The downside potential is just too great for me to risk my meager reputation in recommending it to you.

So, FLASH POINT. This one is a bit of a challenge to write about, because I'm pretty certain that the character names as seen on the movie's subtitles are not all the same names that the credits and press materials have. Louis Koo's character, on the official website, is called "Wilson." Not so in the movie -- I could've sworn it was something like "Ha Neung." And I remember quite specifically one of the villains in the movie was called "A Hu," which I thought was funny because he's an A-hole, but the site says he's "Tiger."

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Knowing all this, you can look at other reviews with a more educated eye. See which critics were actually taking notes and which get all their info from the press kit. I freely admit I was not taking notes, but this is why maybe I should have.

But here's all you really need to know: Donnie Yen is the good guy. Collin Chou is the bad guy. Yen plays a violent cop who occasionally beats people to death when he's not supposed to. Since this is a movie, though, they're all deserving of such treatment. Besides, you shouldn't provoke Donnie. Not only is he a master of your garden-variety movie martial arts and wire-fu, but for this movie he learned MMA holds and submissions, and apparently some Parkour too. Always abreast of current trends, that Donnie. Or way ahead -- this movie is set ten years ago before Hong Kong went back to China, so technically Donnie's character was actually using today's "cool" styles way before they got hip.

In a less badass nod to current trends, the movie is bookended by pseudo-reality-show bits where he talks directly to the camera against a black background. Thankfully this is only a bookending device and not throughout.

The villains of the piece are three brothers who run drugs from Vietnam. In the film, they all have the simple surname of "A," but in English they are apparently Tony (Chou), Ja Ge (Ray Lui), and Tiger (King Yu).

Tangent: Is it a deliberate in-joke that the website for a movie called FLASH POINT is burdened by way too much pointless flash animation?

Anyhow, Tony's the psychotic boss, Ja Ge the businesslike baddie, and Tiger the muscle so psycho that when he drops his cell phone in a toilet early on, his solution is to kung-fu punch the commode into pieces to get his device out. What the three bad bros don't know is that their henchman -- Ha Neung, or Wilson or whatever, played by Koo -- is a mole, secretly Donnie's partner.

There's nothing that I dislike about FLASH POINT, but I do wish it could be even more than it is -- the key problem is that it doesn't know whether to be a gangster movie like ELECTION or INFERNAL AFFAIRS, or a Donnie Yen ass-kicking-fest. So it's kinda halfway on both, where you wish it might go all the way on one. Or both -- director Wilson Yip's previous SPL (a.k.a. KILL ZONE on U.S. DVD) pitted Donnie Yen against Sammo Hung in a crime movie loaded with insane fights. There are really only two insane fights here, and when Yen and Chou finally go at it, they deliver moves that would kill a regular human being several times over, brushing them off like nothing. Given the realistic tone of the crime stuff, the shift to cartoonish video game fighting is jarring, albeit pretty cool.

I like this stuff, though I want to like it more. I feel secure enough to suggest seeing it, though.

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