Much in the same reign as Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat and Jet Li, Donnie Yen action roles are arguably his most popular. Although when compare to the previous three most of Yen earlier starring efforts don’t pack the same punch. Yen’s latest sadly falls in that category whenever having to endure a muddle story before getting to the goods.
Special ID is about a cop and his team of comrades going undercover in one of China’s most ruthless underworld organizations to stop a gang leader. The premise and narrative beats are standard action film affairs without a change in formula; you have the undercover cop who’s been on the inside for too long, undercover cop running the risk of criminals discovering his identity, protagonist not getting along with his partners, the superior officers who uses protagonist life for his own means, and by the end protagonist attempting to fulfill a personal vendetta. For a film that hardly strays away from familiar territory making sense of it all is more difficult than needed to be. Its plot is easy to understand, but distorted plot points never connected with one another in a seamless flow. A love interest for example is hardly touched upon even though scenes are entirely dedicated to hinting at it. Nothing ever becomes at the hinted romance providing moments of character development with the interaction contributing little. Another noticeable issue comes in the directionless writing. Tones drastically change on the spot from becoming a gritty action film to feeling like a rom-com at a moments notice. Characters like the plot itself are easy to understand, but the muddle story makes it needlessly difficult decipher. You’ll have an understanding of the relationships, the characters, motivations, but even with a clear understanding muddle storytelling prevents any worthwhile investment to be made. This film never manages to find its own identity at the end coming off as a collection of several scripts each being drastically different each in their own muddle way.
Donnie Yen is comical and naughty rascal-like acting in the film is passable, but for the emotional side of his character he doesn’t cut it. A weak script is blame as Yen does his best with heartless dramatic scenes. When it comes to Yen fight choreography it appears brutal, but doesn’t get across that feel of brutality. Every fight is restricted to being in a close a quarter and even when the action is taken outside of a building it plays strictly by the rules. Yen is the only actor who uses MMA techniques while the rest of his cast are kickboxers. This eliminates the tensity in fight scenes as Yen opponents have no idea how to counter his MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques. Even in the first few minutes of the film even though Donnie Yen literally fights crawling around the floor his opponent does not know how to counter Yen moves. The only time it mixes fighting techniques is during Yen fight with Andy On. Andy On using primarily Muay Thai and variation of several others fighting styles offered more elaborate choreography. Only when On fights against Donnie Yen do the fight scenes deliver on its brutality. Action scenes don’t have the wow factor though they are well staged that provide the film the much needed energy. As for Andy On acting it’s solid selling the idea he could go toe to toe with Donnie Yen. Jing Tian provides a pretty face and impresses with her agility and flexibility. Tian might be small, but her move set makes her believable and the film climactic action scene sells her in the action role. Her acting is good genuinely the often corny and cheesy dialogue sound as good as it can.
Special ID delivers solid performances and solid action scenes, but in order to get to see those you have to endure the deadweight of a muddle and standard story. It plays by the rules in terms of narrative and action unable to find an identity of its own.
Saat Po Long is a Martial Film that I’ve heard great things and managed to live it reputation. Unlike The Rebel and Invisible Target, Saat Po Long delivers in both plot and action to make to one great Martial Art film.
Saat Po Long follows a near retired inspector and his unit who are willing to put down a crime boss at all costs while dealing with a replacement inspector who is getting in their way. Meanwhile, the crime boss plots a killing spree on them. The plot is dark, gritty, and maintains your interest while no one is fighting on screen. It has enough twists to not only keep the viewer engage with what happening on screen, but also prevents practicability. Although Wilson Yip does have some hiccup when telling a story, often time there are long dialogue scenes and few to little action scenes to fully justify it. While most of the dialogue driven scenes are done well, they do drag out creating an uneven pacing for a film of this genre. One major problem with the movie are the characters, while the cast do a terrific job in their roles the characters aren’t worth caring about much. Some of them simply don’t have enough development while some don’t get enough screen time for their death to have any meaning. When it comes to action on the other hand, Wilson Yip knows what he’s doing making sure the audience could see what’s going on screen. The cast, like I said earlier, are terrific but Sammo Hung steals the show as the movie villain. He truly makes one of most memorable villain in the Martial Art genre while still being able to perform his fight scenes convincingly despite his old age. Donnie Yen is not bad himself and delivers on his fight scene with Sammo Hung.
Saat Po Long may not have memorable characters for the most part, but it does have a great plot and action to satisfy the viewers. Whether you like crime film or Martial Art film Saat Po Long is a movie that successfully combines the two for a great experience.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Donnie Yen in the starring role of movie so I decided to watch one of his more recent efforts. While Donnie Yen once again delivers some great action scenes, the movie story prevents is from being great.
Flash Point is about an agent battling against three brothers of a powerful Vietnamese gang. Alright the story for the movie is poorly done. It lacks depth, character development, and pacing as most of the action is in the last thirty minutes and everything in between is a largely forgettable story. Of course story wasn’t the main focus of the movie, it main focus was in the action.
As for the violence allot of effort when into them and they’re pretty awesome. This movie has one of the best climax for a Martial Art movie, unfortunately you have to endure the lack of a good story. I won’t deny that both Wilson Yip and Donnie Yen make a good team when it comes to violence, drama on the other hand is a big miss here. Donnie Yen proves he’s bad ass, but also proves he’s not able to act when he’s not punching. Wilson Yip has an eye for action, but he doesn’t put in the same effort for telling a story.
Flash Point is a Martial Art movie with great violence, but lacks depth in a story to make it great. If you’re looking for a great Martial Art violence watch this, but skip to the violence as it’s the only part worth watching.
Wow, what a shocker, I didn’t expect Shanghai Knights to be as good as the original. Though while it may not be well put together as the first, I stilled had some laughs and fun.
When a Chinese rebel murders Chon’s (Jackie Chan) estranged father and escapes to England, Chon and Roy (Owen Wilson) make their way to London with revenge on their minds. I got the idea that the sequel could have been better, different location, more characters, and Donnie Yen. Unfortunately what we get is to much ideas in a movie that don’t work well together. At points some scene feel out of place or to long. Story wise, the original does a better job with a good pace that not to crazy.
What the sequel does improve on is the action. My personal favorite being Jackie Chan against Donnie Yen, though short, it’s rewarding to see these two legends in the same movie together for Martial Art fans. Though the most spectacular action sequence has to be the fencing match in the clock tower, a reference to what Chan did in his classic film Project A.
Like the original, it has references to famous icons. Like Charlie Chaplin as a kid being portrayed as a crook or Detective Arthur Doyle who wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels being an actual detective in this movie. I found the reference to Jack the Ripper to be the best, probably because I hate famous killers that got away.
So this is a rare case in which both films in the franchise are equal. If you want a good pace story with good humor, Shanghai Noon is the way to go. If you wanting good humor and action, Shanghai Knights the way to go. Though I don’t think you can go wrong whichever you choose to watch.
Martial Arts films are always memorable if done right, and Iron Monkey is a great Martial Art film that delivers on story and fantastic choreography.
A doctor fights the corrupt authorities as a masked Robin Hood hero, even while another martial artist/doctor is forced to hunt for him. The story, though mostly humorous, has enough drama in it for any Martial Art fan to take it seriously. Though, the only misstep in it story is the humor removed some of seriousness of the dramatic scene for me, this is both good and bad. Overall the story written and told well.
The action is spectacular, both with wires and non-wire action sequences are here. The action is fast, fun, and enjoyable to watch. As anyone who seen this movie will tell you, the last battle in this movie is spectacular, i’ve never seen anything like it and is unlikely that anyone will ever come close to making anything like it.
Iron Monkey is a great movie that i’ll recommend to any Martial Art fans, with a terrific and memorable fight sequences. There no reasons why you should skip out on this.
Donnie Yen second attempt at playing Chen Zhen is much better because he’s not imitating Bruce Lee, but it unfortunate the movie is poorly paced with action sequences that are too quick for full enjoyment.
Donnie Yen no doubt is man of action proven by his Ip Man movies, but when your taking on a legendary character like Che Zhen, who’s a real martial artist, you have to have the right balance of action and drama. The action sequences are well made, but unfortunately short or too fast for our enjoyment. Which is a real shame, I mean the prologue in this movie (one of the best I’ve seen since Goldeneye) gets you excited into watching this and is a real let down when you watch the whole thing.
The story simply put this way, seven years after the apparent death of Chen Zhen, who was shot after discovering who was responsible for his teacher’s death in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. A mysterious stranger arrives from overseas and befriends a local mafia boss. That man is a disguised Chen Zhen, who intends to infiltrate the mob when they form an alliance with the Japanese. Now while it’s sounds good on paper, execution of it was poor in mu opinion. It could have definitely been better in terms of it story, but there’s enough good moments in the story to keep you entertain.
I have to praise Donnie Yen for learning from his mistake for imitating Bruce Lee in his first portrayal of Chen Zhen. He does a better job in this one not imitating Bruce Lee and feels more like a Donnie Yen movie than a bruceploitation movie.
Overall it’s a okay movie with well done action sequences that are too fast and unevenly pace throughout the movie. If you want a good portrayal of Chen Zhen, I recommend Fist of Legend and The Chinese Connection.