Michael Mann doesn't make standard frantic-pace thrillers (see Heat and Public Enemies); he prefers to work at a more controlled stride, so while this hacking adventure-mystery is intriguing it also feels a bit plodding. Yes, the film erupts now and then into a viscerally exhilarating action sequence, including a couple of astonishing shootouts, but over the course of two and a quarter hours it barely builds up a head of steam. And it's further frustrating that the intriguing characters never quite emerge as real people.
It opens with a cyberattack on a Chinese nuclear power plant, after which Captain Chen (Wang Leehom) heads to America to consult with FBI Agent Barrett (Viola Davis), urging her to get the one man who can solve this case: Chen's former MIT roommate Nick (Chris Hemsworth), now serving 13 years in prison for hacking. On supervised release, Nick heads to Hong Kong with Chen and Barrett, plus a minder (Holt McCallany) and Chen's computer-whiz sister Lien (Tang Wei), who immediately catches Nick's eye. As they secretly begin falling for each other, Nick indulges in a lot of illicit computer work to trace the attack to ruthless thug Kassar (Ritchie Coster) and his shadowy boss Sadak (Yorick van Wageningen). But they're based in Jakarta, and the FBI has no jurisdiction there.
Aside from some cheesy inside-the-computer animation, Mann makes the film look sleek and stylish, dropping clues into each scene to fill in the bigger picture about what is happening. And when an action set-piece breaks out, the film becomes urgent and gritty, with handheld camerawork and a breathless sense of peril that suggests that no one is safe. On the other hand, the script asks us to believe that Hemsworth's imprisoned computer geek can suddenly become a full-on action man, with astonishing gun-handling skills, the muscly precision of a Hollywood stunt man and the ability to out-strategise both spies and super-villains in a massive climactic showdown in a crowded city square.
Continue reading: Blackhat Review
Dragon Chan is a Hong Kong cop who has spent many years of his life building up a reputation within a major Chinese crime organisation, working undercover to expose some its most ruthless associates. However, it soon becomes clear that the mob boss Xiong is on the warpath searching for spies that threaten to solidarity of his gang and Chan starts to get nervous when a number of other double agents are found brutally murdered. Sure enough, someone Chan thought he could trust reveals Chan's true identity to Xiong and the rest of the organisation and Chan finds himself desperately trying to protect his already unstable family life while also trying to escape certain death himself. He has the skills to defend himself for a few days, but when it's him versus a huge organisation with access to numerous weapons, his survival chances are starting to look limited.
This crime drama has been directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung ('Naked Killer', 'The Iceman Cometh', 'Century of the Dragon') and written by Kam-Yuen Szeto ('Exiled', 'Flash Point', 'Kill Zone - S.P.L.'). 'Special ID' stars Hong Kong action icon Donnie Yen ('Ip Man', 'Blade II', 'Hero') and is set to be released in theatres on March 7th 2014.
18 months later, Ho tracks down the now-retired Bun to help him find a missing policeman that many think was shot by an Indian during a routine stakeout. The missing man, Wong, was last seen with his partner Chi Wai (an intense Lam Ka Tung), a crooked cop with a feral streak. Ho wants to ascertain Bun's most supernatural ability: The detective can see people's inner personalities, what they actually are under their well-worn aesthetics. It doesn't take much for Bun to suspect Chi Wai when he notices the police officer has seven personas, including a fat lard with a penchant for shark's fin soup and an ice-cold businesswoman.
Continue reading: Mad Detective Review
It didn't have to be that way. With genius Hong Kong director Tsui Hark and equally brilliant fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping (of Matrix fame) at the helm, you'd expect something watchable, but in this case, a lame story wrapped in rudimentary CGI effects goes nowhere, despite some high-flying fights that add a few pulses of excitement.
Continue reading: Black Mask 2: City Of Masks Review
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