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Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Flashpoint

As I am sure everyone who has got into a film conversation with me (50/50 good or bad, depending on who you are), I'm sure you know I like some really crazy art house movie that no one has ever heard of. Well, you know what. Every now and then I like a break from that, and what could be the better recipe for a break than a Hong Kong action movie starring Donnie Yen? Or so it would seem, but we'll get into that later on. Anyway, the story of Flashpoint is that Yen, one of China's big action stars, is a (c'mon, easy guess) badass cop who doesn't play by the rules, but just gets the job done. Utilising his amazing martial arts skills, he and an undercover cop attempt to crackdown a gang of Vietnamese drug smugglers. That is all you need to know plot wise really, because I have just told you pretty much the just of the entire story. There are perhaps only two things that the film has going for it. The first is the fact that this film is essentially a design to showcase mixed martial arts, and the choreography (also by Yen) is certainly up to par, and does create for some interesting moments in action scenes. Also, without an able star to be able to utilise these talents, we wouldn't have this film. Donnie Yen does the whole job with the necessary talent. With regards to acting, he plays the role of the not-by-the-book cop well, but his performance never seems like there is much exertion of effort whatsoever, which may not be his own fault, considering he is playing what is in essence, merely a stereotype. I mean, how of these characters have we had before, Martin Riggs, Popeye Doyle and Vincent Hanna to name just a few. And this is the main problem of the film: predictability and retreat into cliché at every possible pit stop in between the action. Every character is the kind of character that you would expect: the three Viets in particular ring a bell. For example, there is one kind of cool, slick character by the name of Archer, another schizoid psychopath who isn't even given a name, just the adopted nickname of Tiger. And of course, how could I forget, the cold, calculating Tony. I'm sure by now you can guess in which order Donnie Yen gets down to kicking their ass. Also, the story is wrapped a sealed bag, which seemingly suffocates all life of what resembles as any attempt to construct an original plot, with clichés abound lack a pack of locusts, parasites eating away at all life that may have ever been in this film, creating a piece not incomparable to someone in comatose. Everyone dies in the same order that you would expect. Oh, and you know the great cliché about how despite the fact that these men are criminals, they still have a moral code to obey? Yeah, well you know how for some reason or another, these superbad foes end up getting personal with the good guys, crossing a line that should never have crossed? Yeah, well these guys cross the line, and really deserve what they get, hence the moral justification for the bloodshed that happens in the climax. I mean, it is in this climax that you do realise how bad the movie is. The film, which is a brisk, very lean 88 minutes, and thus it becomes terribly obvious how much of this film is bad. The climax is an extended action scene of over twenty minutes, which leaves us barely over an hour of film with dire plot and even more action scenes. Now, with regards to the action scenes, which you would like to think are something groundbreaking and interesting, considering how obvious it is that plot is taking a backseat and we have a virtually unseen in film martial art style on display. Well, truth be told, the action is rather underwhelming. Like I said, the choreography is very good, but it merely just feels like a pastiche of every other martial arts fight, with some nice additions. You know, where it looks like the bad guy may win, but the good guy comes back with his heart of a lion and kicks ass. Unfortunately, the mixed martial arts style implemented in the film is not used to its full potential, and merely becomes moulded into guns, cars, and smashing objects. It feels like every Steven Seagal movie, who as good as he is as a martial artist, was never really good in any film. Whenever I go to see a Hong Kong action movie, I want an alternative action film. I don't mind if it's predictable, as long as it has good action. This film does neither, with the action being okay at best. It is too overbearingly wound in cliché to even realise how bad it gets at times. It even has the foreign bad guy cliché of many American action movies, for the bad guys, who like in the Americans are played by people from that country and aren't really foreign, are Vietnamese and not really Chinese. I have had enough of the evil foreign guys. Why is there never a bad guy who is screwing over his home country? Truthfully, the only thing that Flashpoint has going for it is Donnie Yen, who plays a cliché well and pulls off some moments of pleasure in his action choreography in an otherwise predictable, boring, cliché ridden and at times rather morally bankrupt and tasteless film.

The Thin White Dude’s Prognosis – 1.8/10

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