Friday, July 25, 2014

Streaming choice for Hong Kong action: Clarence Fok's silly-but-entertaining toss-up, SPECIAL ID

Although the Koreans have given Hong Kong action movies some competition of late (most recently via the superlative Snowpiercer), Hong Kong is what many of us still think of first when it comes to exciting man-on-man (sometimes on-woman, and occasionally in-car) action. A recent example of this would be SPECIAL ID, by a director new to me, Clarence Fok, who together with his prize star, Donnie Yen, has staged a hefty handful of terrific action scenes, each one seemingly better than the last.

Mr. Fok, shown at right at a press conference for the film, has also made a movie that often seems silly -- yet because the silliness also seems intentional, this allows us to relax and just go with the flow. That flow takes in the three characters shown on the poster, top. Mr. Yen, who really is a terrific performer, fighter and actor, here plays Dragon, a police-man who, due to a problem in the past, is remanded to working undercover to get the goods on a certain criminal gang. All poor Dragon wants, how-ever, is to rejoin the police force as a cop.

The new leader of that criminal gang is an old friend of Yen's named Sunny (Andy On, above, left), a very nasty type who believes in nothing but power and brute strength. The third wheel is a very pretty, by-the-book woman cop (Tian Jing, below, right), who is rather extraordinarily gifted in gunplay and fighting.

The plot also involves Dragon's delightful mother, who has clearly raised her son well, plus various assorted criminal types and other cops. But really, we just move from one great action set piece to an even better action set piece -- all which display Mr. Yen's skills to amazing effect.

One of Yen's biggest assets is his charm, along with the all-out enjoyment he seems to be having throughout much of the film. He can be serious as needed, of course, but often he seems to be showing us what a lark this all is -- so just lean back, relax and enjoy.

Special ID can be viewed on Netfix streaming now, as well as on DVD. To bad it's not also on Blu-ray, but Netflix's high-definition will cover that base almost as well.

No comments: