The Point at Which Flashing Happens
I believe today is the first time I’ve received a request from my friend Drewchum. Drewchum is an Asian, so it’s not farfetched to think that the movie he would request would be a martial arts movie. It’s also not farfetched to think that he just thought about the Pokémon Farfetch’d when I typed that sentence. Despite my incredible whiteness, I have long been a fan of the martial arts genre of movies, so this was a request I was more than happy to grant. And the fact that it was available on Netflix streaming only helped the matter. And the star of this movie is one of my favorite martial artists that’s in prime condition enough to still put out good martial arts movies! So let’s get into my review of Flash Point, written by Szeto Kam Yuen, directed by Wilson Yip, and starring Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou, Ray Lui, Xing Yu, Fan Bingbing, Kent Cheng, Xu Qing, and Teresa Ha.
Detective Sergeant Ma Jun (Donnie Yen) is working with his undercover partner Wilson (Louis Koo) to take down three drug dealing brothers: Archer (Ray Lui), Tony, (Collin Chou), and Tiger (Xing Yu). Ma is an unconventional and aggressive cop, but he gets results. See, even China has clichés. The brothers are starting to make moves against rival gangs ultimately reaching the point where Tiger tries to kill one of the rival gang leaders with a knife, but Wilson intervenes. The gang leader survives and agrees to testify against the brothers. During an attempt to collect their money to flee, Archer is arrested while Wilson’s cover is blown to Tony and Tiger. Wilson is badly injured when Tony hits him with a car, but he survives. With the brothers still trying to kill Wilson, Ma must try to protect Wilson while still trying to take down the drug dealers. But can he do that while still playing by his own rules?!
I’ve been noticing a disappointing trend in the newer age of martial arts movies. I don’t know if it’s an attempt to copy American movies, or to get noticed in America, or if directors are just getting more artsy fartsy in the Orient, but a lot of martial arts movies are focusing a lot more on story recently than on the action. That’s right; I called this a disappointing trend. I want there to be some story when I go into a martial arts movie, but it really doesn’t need to be much more than a reason for the hero to want to punch the face of the villain. All I need is, “You killed my brother. Prepare to die.” What I don’t need to see is the early stages of Wilson’s relationship with his girlfriend, their depressing dates, and them spooning together. I also don’t need a lot of the random goofy things that they waste time with, such as the random group of old people who wanted to jump in the beach but were not supposed to for some reason (I couldn’t read the sign that probably would have said why in Chinese), or the group of the cops that were playing in a band, with Donnie Yen on the bass drum. If you’re thinking these two things have absolutely nothing to do with the movie, you’re right. And what’s worse is the fact that these stupid things and regular parts of the story make the action spread pretty thin. To the movie’s credit, when the martial arts start in the movie, they’re pretty awesome. I get the feeling that the fight choreographer just found out about MMA and said, “The world needs to see this shit! …Y’know, more than they currently do on TV.” But combining the movie choreography experience of the Asian martial arts movie scene with mixed martial arts has potential, and it’s realized here. They use a lot of stuff that MMA fans will notice, such as Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing trapping and knees to the head, ground and pound, side mount and knees to the ribs, etc. It all worked really well. The problem with it was how far apart it was spread. It starts off with a couple of fairly short fights, has a couple of gun fights and a few car chases and collisions, but doesn’t really come around until the end of the movie. The very end of the movie is a good collection of action that I had been waiting patiently for through the rest of the movie. Some cool and stylized gun fights and a very satisfying concluding fight between Ma and Tony. A lot of cool uses of MMA and wrestling and was what I had been waiting for, but I did think the conclusion of the fight was less than satisfying. Before that, the only fight worth mentioning happened about 10 minutes earlier when Ma fought Tiger. The chase leading up to it was pretty cool and bordered on Parkour. There was even a part where Ma ran along a wall like the Prince of Persia games. And he suplexed that mother fucker! I don’t see that nearly enough since I stopped watching WWE. So, basically, the only thing I truly want to see in a martial arts movie is martial arts, and it’s far too spread out for my taste. When it happened it was great, but we need to focus up on what we’re good at here and not try to force story into movies that don’t really require it.
I honestly feel like I was barely paying attention to the performances in this movie. This’ll be a quickie. I love Donnie Yen. He’s always a total badass, and able to pull off many different forms of martial arts in movies. Very versatile, and a pretty decent actor as well. Louis Koo seemed mopey half the time. Collin Chou was vaguely intimidating. Ray Lui and Sing Yu tried too hard. Fan Bingbing has a funny name, but she was pretty cute in the movie. Not just physically, but her personality was pretty cute too. I’m mainly thinking about one scene in the movie when she was laid up in a hospital with her leg in a sling and Louis Koo said something like, “Don’t go anywhere,” and she bobbed her leg up and down in the sling. It was cute. And that’s all I’ve got.
Flash Point is a movie that wasn’t able to resonate with me because they focused too much on story. The story didn’t wind up being anything all that impressive and when you compound that with the fact that the story spread out the action too thin. When it was there, it was pretty great, but there was just too little of it for me. Not a bad watch, but there’s some better movies you could watch. Ip Man, for instance. But if you’re looking for a martial arts movie, there’s worse ways to spend your time on Netflix streaming. Flash Point gets “Robert want more punchface!” out of “I need a place to find more movie quotes…”
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