The Plot: The lives of many are changed on a sunny afternoon in Hong Kong, as a gang of thieves blow out the side of an armored car. Killing the guards within while also killing a young woman shopping for wedding rings in a jewelry store across the street. While inside the gang of thieves one of their own might just be marked for death himself. Some time later the young police officer who was to marry the woman within the jewelry store has watched his life fall apart in front of him. He and his partner wander aimlessly with only mild interest in their job and no value for their own lives. Also within the department is a rookie officer who’s brother may or may not have been involved with the group of thieves who pulled off the heist. Now these three whose lives have been so drastically changed by this one incident must band together, because the gangsters involved might have just came back to town.
The Review: Unfortunately for me, time has not permitted me much in the way of resources to keep up with all the latest trends and spins in the world of Asian filmmaking. I’ve been a few months behind the bend as of late but I try to check in with the communities to see what all the latest buzz going around is. That just so happens to be how I found out about Invisible Target, one of Benny Chan’s latest. Benny Chan is the man behind New Police Story (which I thought was absolutely fantastic, but not all felt the same), Gen-X Cops (which like it or not, is still influencing folks all over) and Who Am I? So the guy has all the stars and stripes as far as I am concerned and Invisible Target is likely his best work yet. I believe the guys over at KFCCinema were the ones who quipped that the film should be called “Glass Target”, and I am prone to agree. After this film, you will have witnessed more explosions, glass smashed into pieces and absolute destruction of private property than has been put to celluloid in Hong Kong since John Woo’s last hurrah of Hard Boiled. Every reviewer right now is going out of his way to refer to Invisible Target as “The New Hard Boiled”, or “Hard Boiled For This Generation”, but truthfully that’s not the most apt description I can think of. However, “A Mishmash of all great things in HK cinema history – from Kung Fu & Wuxia mixed in with the insane stunts of Jackie Chan’s Police Story-era as well as the massive explosions and over the top action of John Woo” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily does it? Doesn’t change it from being any less true. Invisible Target isn’t really made in the vein of any one John Woo movie, but a mix of everything that has inspired and is beloved about HK cinema; which makes it as cool as the other side of the pillow.
Invisible Target definitely came as a surprise to me, as I’ve been so uninvolved in the community as of late – but better late than never, as the film came as a blessing on a boring rainy afternoon. Explosions, kung fu, gun fu and intense drama and action. Invisible Target is the action film that we’ve been waiting for since the Hong Kong handover, and it delivers on all the promises of flicks like Gen-X Cops which offered a glitzy and youthful look at action cinema, the police procedural drama of films like Infernal Affairs or the work of Johnny To (whether he’s focusing on crime of the actual police, it’s that same dramatic and tense pacing as is here) or the aforementioned action influences of Jackie Chan and John Woo. Invisible Target is one of those flicks that goes in like candy but leaves you full like a four course meal. It’s sweet, candy-like but not light on actual substance of character and plot development. Certainly one of my favorite action films released since Hard Boiled, and it may very well be my favorite since then! A big statement for a very promising film, and I guarantee if you give it a chance it can become one of your favorites as well. I realize that at this point to go into the film after I have bombarded you with nonstop hype, there is a possibility of audience members not being as blown away as I was and I respect that and will ask you not to go into the film with as little of my rantings running through your mind as possible and enjoy this as another in a long line of very well made pieces of Hong Kong action.
After all of that said, I don’t think there’s a case that Invisible Target is a perfect film. Not by far, it has its own share of weaknesses. The acting ranges throughout the film from varying characters, there’s a lot of the slightly over-dramatic performances that are somewhat characteristic of the HK crime drama, and the script could have been a little tigher I suppose so that with the array of characters there’s never any confusion – but these things are hardly noticeable when the film is viewed for its intention: entertainment. It may not be high art or a film that David Lynch will be studying for years, but if you have hair on your peaches and/or you’re a fan of Hong Kong action flicks; pick this one up immediately.