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The story starts with small-time conman Cool (Nicholas Tse), whose undercover policeman half-brother (Phillip Ng) is murdered by Ko (Gao Hu), the head of an illegal gambling syndicate. Cool... See full summary »
Whereas three old friends work together in a fire station in Hong Kong, a fire breaks out in a rundown residential block on Christmas' Eve, threatening to plunge the whole city into darkness if it spreads to a to a nearby power plant supplying natural gas. Politics, competition and distrust between the firemen of the Pillar Point Division are to be expected. Written by
My first cinema-going in 2014, Hong Kong director/writer Derek Kowk's fifth film is another eulogy to gallant firemen after Pang Brothers' OUT OF INFERNO (2013), which just released in the end of September. The thematic coincidence in such a short span definitely hurts AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT's box office performance, but the film per se, is a solid action flick hinges on an innovative concept of smoke, both literally and figuratively.
After a prologue manifests three friends' (Tse, Yue and On, all firefighters) divergence on an accident during their mission, On is the silent but ambitious one, Yue is the insouciant scapegoat, and Tse denies his oath to keep his hands clean, which sets the keynote of their distinctive path in due course, the film concisely concentrates its story on Christmas Eve 2013, one of the hottest winter in Hong Kong history (introduced by a shoddy apocalyptic advertisement for fireman recruitment stars Jackie Chan) and a typhoon is brewing, a fire hazard in a desolate factory nearby a power plant's gas pipeline and obstinate judgment made by idiotic plant decision-maker precipitates a monstrous conflagration in the plant and complete power blackout in a large portion of Kowloon Peninsula.
The rescue procedure follows a standard yet trite routine, some heroic sacrifice (a hammy Simon Yam is not alone here), some family embroilment (a father must save his son who is entrapped in the plant with his friends on account of the lamest plot arrangement, who invites a gaggle of schoolchildren to visit a power plant on Christmas Eve and unwittingly leaves three of them behind? Come on writers, you can make something less embarrassing!), some casual cannon fodder, some running and jumping set pieces, all in all, culminates with a final bravado invoking a (should be) sensational awesomeness to counteract the common happy ending.
Nicholas Tse anchors a more average Joe impersonation into the role (unlike the usual action hero staple, such as in the most recent THE VIRAL FACTOR 2012), battles against the "smoke" - his deep-rooted guilt, whose ultimate detonating slo-motion shots are sublimated with dashing aesthetic impact to swank the glamor of self-sacrifice. As I mentioned earlier, the smoke element penetrates the film relentlessly, its horror-flick intrusion and murky aura should be credited to the CGI teamwork from Post Production Office Limited (which was founded by Tse in 2003).
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is plain serviceable, an amalgam of actors from both Hong Kong and mainland China doesn't mirror the awkward incompatibility as in the usual cringe-worthy outputs. Derek Kwok did a decent job superintending a sizable production work under his own belt (his previous wondrous dark horse triumph with GALLANTS 2010 is co-directed with Clement Sze-Kit Cheng, which won BEST PICTURE in Hong Kong Film Award in 2011) and he is positively on the horizon in the HK cinema showbiz.
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