Flash Point | Varied Celluloid

Flash Point

Posted by Josh Samford On November - 1 - 2007
The Plot: Donnie Yen is back with Wilson Yip as director in this continuation of the style of martial arts/hard boiled detective genre first formed in their previous work SPL. This time around, Donnie Yen is a detective working on a major case against a local triad gang that has developed into a massive powerhouse in his home city. Yen’s close friend Wilson has taken the unenviable job of being an undercover agent within this crime family, and has routine checkups with Yen’s character. However, as the gang grows suspicious, Wilson’s life is put into danger and Donnie is forced to sit back and do so little to protect his friend. Before long, something has to break, because secrets are impossible to keep.




The Review: As I explained in great detail when writing on SPL, I am a massive fan of the sport Mixed Martial Arts. I went into detail with the history and explination of what that exactly is in my review for that film, so skip on over and check it out, but if you’ve already been there or have the knowledge – I’ll just go on to say I am almost what you would call a Super Fan. Following events overseas, making heroes of my favorite champions, etc. so what Donnie Yen has done with this series speaks directly to me as both a Kung Fu movie geek – AND an MMA geek; so what I am getting at is if you are as big of a nerd as I am, these films may give you a complete geek-gasm. In Flash Point Yen and Yip once again combine a very well thought out, well paced script – with mind blowing MMA inspired fight sequences. Combing the speed and flashiness of traditional Kung Fu cinema and incorporating these various styles otherwise never seen – these films create something unique and breathtaking. Flash Point even expounds on the previous film with even more crossover styles being used. Most notably Muay Thai and some flashier Jiu-Jitsu, such techniques like the flying armbar and at least one very slick triangle choke. Throw in a few explosions, some run and gun sequences and you have one exciting and fresh take on the action genre. The question I suppose, is does it top or add onto the excellence of SPL? Well, that’s a tall order to fill in terms of being better than; but does it add onto the depth of SPL? I believe so, and I think the films compliment each other very well. Flash Point deals with Yen’s situation in an environment he is familiar with and less of a fish out of water. His character in this film shows great honor and loyalty, traits that were found in SPL but not expounded upon. Flash Point takes it’s time to get to the action, much the same as SPL, however Flash Point is relieved of the burden of introducing the audience of this new form of martial arts in film and thus the fight scenes are a little less sporadic and this might turn some viewers off to a degree – but believe me, the final fight sequence MORE than makes up for any length of time between fight sequences.

Isn’t that where the true heart of a martial arts films comes to shine however? Final fight sequences are the bread and butter of Hong Kong martial arts cinema and in my opinion the final twenty or so minutes of Flash Point easily has made it into my top ten with one easy leap. If you’re into the film just for the goods, well, don’t give up faith if you have to sit through all that “plot” and “character development” horse-hockey, because this final sequence will blow your socks out your mouth. I can’t even imagine how that is physically possible, but it will and can happen. That is all I can realistically say without giving away “spoilers”, so you’ll just have to settle for that. However, for those of you let down that there were no shootouts a la John Woo in SPL, you will probably walk away even happier in Flash Point. However, all this time I spend hyping the action may all but come back and bite me in the rear end, because as I’ve tried to make clear, Flash Point is very determined in giving reason behind the climactic battles that are waged. Essentially, I’m afraid those who might take my suggestion may go into this film expecting nonstop action from start to finish – but that simply isn’t Flash Point, nor SPL. These films have very intricate and detailed scripts that lead into all of this. Much the way newer Kung Fu fans may go back and watch Five Deadly Venoms and wonder why there isn’t a fight scene every ten minutes. People do not simply challenge each other on the street in Kung Fu battles, quite unfortunately, but Yip and Yen have created films that can be taken serious and both really do deliver beautifully scripted plots and characters. Flash Point however does have the ability to drag at times, and is diminished somewhat for that. There are moments that simply feel like filler at times, and could have been removed in my opinion to help jog things along. However, there is very little in the way of excess that could be removed from the film and have it make a great ton of sense in terms of logic, so it is forgivable. Flash Point certainly is no perfect film, but it succeeds on many of the levels that the previous SPL does and thankfully falls from out of the pitholes one might have expected it to follow; such as having action for action’s sake.

The cast and crew all excuse themselves well, and there are few weak links. Although the acting is not on a master level, this is an action film afterall and the high drama is mostly dealt out with violence by the conclusion of the film anyhow. Regardless, there are no cringe worthy moments to be wary of. Something else that strikes me, though the script dealing with undercover cops in the triad may seem at first to be a bit similar to the Infernal Affairs series – and truthfully when the film first began heading into that direction I started to feel a bit uneasy – Yip keeps the film narrow and within it’s own little world. The only reason I bring something like that up, is due to how these films have similar styles and structure as Johnny To’s work or the Infernal Affairs trilogy… or really a whole laundry list of films coming out of Hong Kong right now. I just wanted to get that out there, and so to summarize: Flash Point may have it’s troubles every now and then and may have a hard time living up to the absolutely amazing SPL – it is by no means a letdown and is still one of the best martial art films to come out in a very long time. So, I suggest you all get out there and check it out: PRONTO!

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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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