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When an ambulatory TV news unit live broadcasts the embarrassing defeat of a police battalion by five bank robbers in a ballistic showdown, the credibility of the police force drops to a nadir. While on a separate investigation in a run-down building, detective Cheung discovers the hideout of the robbers. Cheung and his men have also entered the building, getting ready to take their foes out any minute. Meanwhile, in order to beat the media at its own game, Inspector Rebecca decides to turn the stakeout into a breaking news show. Written by
Make sure your pacemaker is working and you've got your nitroglycerin tablets handy!!
Wow, is this a tense action-packed film. So much so, that I felt my heart racing throughout the film and I was on the edge of my seat! While I usually HATE action films, this one was something else--an intelligently made action film and one of the few in this genre that I can wholeheartedly recommend! Why it only has an IMDb score of 6.6 is completely beyond me.
Unlike many action films, while there are a lot of explosions and gun fire, there also is an intelligent parallel plot that has to do with the news media and how the government will manage and manipulate the news to best meet their needs. This was brilliant but I was also very surprised, as this film was made in China--a country NOT known for its freedom of expression. Here, the filmmakers have a cynical attitude towards the cops and their occasionally dishonest attempts to manipulate the press. This parallel plot makes this movie far more than just mindless violence, but social commentary. A one-dimensional violent film is a complaint I have with many other action films--but not this one.
The film begins with an undercover surveillance mission by the police. Two uniformed cops blunder into the operation and this results in a massive shootout--and it's obvious that the crooks are far better armed than the police. Eventually, most of the bad guys get free and take refuge in a high-rise apartment--where most of the film takes place.
Despite a very simple plot idea, the film never lets up or becomes just an action feature. Again and again, I was amazed at the intelligence of the writing and intensity of the film without managing to be gratuitously bloody or violent. Yes, this certainly is a violent film, but despite all the shooting and explosions, the body count is amazingly low and it does not look quite as intensely violent some of the John Woo films. Excellent writing, direction and acting make this a must-see film for the genre.
Watch this film...just be sure you DON'T watch it with children or those who are bothered by violent imagery.
PS--I noticed that one reviewer complained about the bad subtitles. While the film I saw didn't have perfect subtitles (there were a few grammatical errors here and there), they were nothing like the ones they described. There were no white captions on white background and I don't recall words like "bandits" being used. I assume there must be another version out there, as I saw the film on the Sundance Channel and it wasn't bad at all. It is also possible I have seen so many badly captioned Asian films that this one looked pretty good to me--and believe me, there are MANY badly captioned Asian films.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
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