Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What will Director Wilson Yip and actor / fight choreographer Donnie Yen come up with next I wonder? 2005 brought us the extremely loud, very explosive, somewhat nonsensical, slickly produced and very entertaining ‘Kill Zone’. 2006 ushered the in the fantasy laden, overly melodramatic but no less entertaining ‘Dragon Tiger Gate’. In 2007 Yip and Yen have stripped it all bare as the majority of the melodrama has been dispensed with and the slick gloss has been largely scratched away. What we are left with are violent criminals and even more violent cops duking it out almost throwback 1980’s Hong Kong style in ‘Flash Point’.

We know pretty much right off the bat the Detective Ma (Yen) is one rule sidestepping cop as he tracks down some perp who he has unearthed in a boxing gym and Ma proceeds to beat the hell out of him. As tends to happen to cops who ‘don’t play the rules’, Ma is called into before a board of his superiors who point out that his arrests rarely go down without some criminal getting a bone or two broken. Ma wonders what their point is. He muses that in the time it’s taking for these clowns to waste his time, there are perfectly good criminals out there whose civil rights he could be violating. Were Ma in the United States, he would the LAPD’s top cop, minus the discrimination.

On the other side of town there’s a brutal gang of Vietnamese thieves smugglers and murderers led by a man we only know as Tony (Collin Chou). Tony and his gang have decided that if there is criminal activity going on in Hong Kong they should be controlling it and have set about the task of doing just that. Little does Tony know, at least right now, one of his gang members is a deep undercover cop. Wilson (Louis Koo) is a total wreck living in constant fear of being discovered, as he informs his partner Detective Ma, and can only find solace in the arms of his pretty girlfriend Julie (Bingbing Fan).

Well as you might imagine it’s just a matter of time until everything goes straight to hell. Eventually Tony discovers Wilson’s deception but only manages to cripple him badly. Worst still is that established Chinese mobsters are so afraid of Tony that they agree to testify against Tony’s top lieutenant Tiger (Yu Xing) who managed to get caught up in a police web. Tony is going to see to it that NOBODY makes it court to testify. Nobody. And that includes a recovering Wilson. Tony even has a bit of an insurance policy to make sure that this happens which will eventually lead to the eventual shoot out and big fight scene between top cop Ma and top thug Tony. May the best man win.

If your desire in watching ‘Flash Point’ is to be inspired by its clever and ingenious narrative, don’t bother. The story is about as basic and as sketchy as it gets. Out of control cop, brutal mobster, blown cover, kidnapped girlfriend, exploding turkey. Okay so maybe the exploding turkey is a bit inspired, but just a bit. I don’t know how it works in Hong Kong, but in the ol’ U.S. if somebody is testifying against a mobster somewhere we like to give them a little protection. Not in this movie. Good luck with that guy standing by your car with a gun Mr. Witness Man. Good luck with that guy with that sledgehammer in your house Mr. Witness Man. So what little story there is doesn’t make a lot of sense and by the time Detective Ma beats some dude to DEATH, though he may have deserved it, and simply walked off, I figured the story aspects of this flick were pretty much an after thought. It was funny though to see that Ma cuffed the guy even after he beat him to DEATH. Forget all that though. I’ll admit the sketchy story does keep this from becoming a legendary cops and robbers movie, but the action still renders it a freaking awesome one.

At a fairly brief 85 minutes, ‘Flash Point’ spends the first half of the movie setting up the sketchy story, but we’re never too far from some action sequence, and then it takes this little snowball it has created and rolls down hill until it has become just one long extended action demo. There’s running, jumping, people scaling walls, exploding turkeys, people getting hacked up by machetes, people getting run over by cars, cute chicks getting slapped, cute chicks catching bullets in the chest, adolescents getting body slammed with it all culminating in a final fight scene that only be described as Victim-esque. My friends if you haven’t seen ‘The Victim’ then go the to back of the line and turn in your kung-fuology card as we can no longer recognize your membership in our club. As punishment you will be forced to watch a ‘Gymkata’ marathon. Good luck surviving that.

The fight scene between Yen and Chou was pretty phenomenal though, as it should have been since it was a quarter of the movie. Regardless it would be near impossible for me not to recommend this film for any fan of Hong Kong cinema despite the narrative shortcomings of ‘Flash Point’. It does deliver on what it promises, and that’s brutal mixed martial arts action and an exploding turkey. You can’t beat that with a stick.

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