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Action fans have completely lost their sense of priorities
ebossert14 December 2013
Note: Check me out as the "Asian Movie Enthusiast" on YouTube, where I review tons of Asian movies.

You really have to wonder how a film like "Special ID" (2013) gets an average IMDb rating of 5.3 out of 10 while something like "The Hobbit" (2012) gets an 8.0. People have truly lost their sense of priorities while watching action films. Read some reviews of "Special ID" and you'll see all kinds of petty criticisms, from language dialects to overly decorated restaurants! Here's a newsflash for you. For an action film to satisfy, it needs a minimum of two things: good action and brisk pacing. Guess what. "Special ID" easily meets this standard and in fact surpasses it with some truly memorable action sequences. Sure, the script is boilerplate and basic (even a bit clumsy in spots), but that doesn't automatically tank the enjoyability of a film that focuses first and foremost on the action anyways.

A cop (Donnie Yen) and his team of comrades go undercover in one of China's most ruthless underworld organizations to stop a gang leader. Andy On plays a good villain, while Tian Jing is a likable female lead. The action in this film is spaced out nicely, which assists the pacing quite well. The fight choreography is less "showy", opting to reflect a realistic, scrappy form of fist-fighting with some mixed martial arts peppered in. The finale lasts a whopping 15 minutes and showcases a suspenseful car chase. This actioner definitely satisfies.

The director here is Clarence Fok, who has a hit or miss filmography but has given us some fun movies in the past – "The Iceman Cometh" (1989) and "Black Panther Warriors" (1994) being two fairly brainless crowd-pleasers that stand out. He has also contributed some truly riveting dramas. For example, his crime drama "Century of the Dragon" (1999) is one of the best triad films of the past 15 years. Overall, the direction in "Special ID" is solid during the action, with some very cool sweeping shots during the lengthy car chase.

Unfortunately, Clarence should have vetoed some of the scoring choices in "Special ID" because the background music got intrusive at times. The sound design of this film feels amateurish and cheap early on, but get better as it progresses. This shouldn't be too much of a problem for fans of old school Hong Kong action flicks from the 80s and 90s, which many times had consistently poor production values but nevertheless succeeded at providing pure entertainment value. At the very least, "Special ID" looks nice while it gives the viewers its fist-to-face goodies.
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Exhilarating Action Scenes!
3xHCCH18 January 2014
I am not really a big martial arts movie fan, but I enjoy watching a good one when I get the chance. "Special ID" is the only other Donnie Yen film I have seen after the phenomenal "Ip Man" and its lesser sequel. I was curious to watch Donnie fight in the modern setting. This film definitely confirms his excellence in martial arts choreography and execution -- from the quiet discipline of wuxia before to rough and rugged mixed martial arts this time.

The story is common and predictable, Chan Chi-lung (Donnie Yen) is an undercover Hongkong cop who gets sent to China to help corner an up-and- coming crime boss, Sunny (Andy On), with whom he was close to in his previous assignment. There were no really big surprises or twists. But of course, we do not typically watch these types of films expecting a profound story, but it is mostly for the exhilarating action scenes. And in this aspect, I thought "Special ID" delivers big time.

It was cool to see a different Donnie Yen as a brash and reckless cop, which was totally in contrast with his subdued character in "Ip Man." His range of fighting skills were all very elegant to watch in those incredibly and impossibly choreographed fight and car chase scenes. Be they in enclosed spaces or in wide-open areas, Donnie Yen is exhilarating to watch.

Andy On plays a very convincing new debonair crime lord from the US. He figures in a very long climactic scenes of car chase with fighting, followed by an intense scene of bloody hand-to-hand combat. He was able to match the grace and flow of Yen's movements yet their scenes come across as gritty and realistic.

As Yen's Chinese female police partner Fang Jing, pretty actress Tian Jing was made to mouth some pretty cheesy lines. But when it comes to her action scenes, her awkwardness disappears. She was unexpectedly awesome in her parkour scenes jumping and running across rooftops, and of course, her major fight scene set unbelievably inside the confines of a Land Rover!

Reviews from many die-hard martial arts film fanatics have been harsh, calling this film a miss in Donnie Yen's filmography because of its sloppiness. However, for the casual viewer who only watches martial arts films occasionally, I do not see anything wrong with the action sequences I saw here in "Special ID". While they may miss the mark for bonafide MMA connoisseurs, for an ordinary guy like me, those action scenes and stunts were quite exciting and very entertaining. 6/10.
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Donnie Yeh should be international bigger.
bbickley13-921-586649 March 2014
I'm always surprise that Donnie Yeh has not exploded onto America like Jackie Chan or Jet Li. I saw a biography on the man and learned that he spent a lot of his childhood in the states and as such speaks better English than the average Chinese action star who basically just learned how to read lines in English. Kind of Ironic, and added to the fact that The Don is more attractive than his peers you would think Hollywood would be knocking on his door, Or maybe they are and Donnie chooses to stay away from the headaches the ones that came before him had to go through.

Special ID shows the kind of hands-on film making Donnie gets to do in his native land. The action sequences are long and energetic like I would expect from a Kung Fu flick, and never let down. What I love best is the martial arts sequences are very contemporary with what's going on today. The Don does the traditional high speed flying kicks that are trade mark in Kung Fu, but I noticed that Donnie is using the rapid punches that remind me of his role as Ip Man. I also notice that mixed martial arts seems to have influenced the fights in this movie with a lot of low to the floor fighting which actually made the conflicts realer for me. Outside the fight choreography, there was also an awesome chase scene as well.

Donnie plays a police officer who wants to take down China's most ruthless crime syndicate. In order to do this he has to go deep undercover, but when the mob boss suspects a traitor in his ranks, Don as "Dragon" Chan, is in trouble of getting his cover blown and his life ended, which puts him in conflict with his duty as a police official. His best ally is Fang Jing, an officer who puts herself on the line and in the action. I love noting more than to see a woman who is more than just eye candy to the action hero (but she does do eye candy very well).

Another highlight for me is one of The Antagonist's henchmen Sunny played by Andy Oh. He spoke a lot of English in the film for reasons I did not fully get, but this may have help with me relating to the character, as I did not have to read what he was saying, but the fight scene between he and The Don was brilliant.

Once again the Don delivers a worth wild Action flick, to add on to the many reasons why Hollywood does a disservice to itself sleeping on his skills, but it's probably for the best as an American made Special ID just would not be the same.
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Donnie Yen makes a thrilling return to contemporary MMA-style action; pity the rest of the movie is a muddled mess
moviexclusive18 October 2013
The six years since 'Ip Man', Donnie Yen has not looked back on the kind of contemporary action that fuelled his latest career resurgence, preferring instead historical epics like 'Bodyguards and Assassins', 'Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen' and 'Wu Xia'. No wonder then fans of 'S.P.L.' and 'Flash Point' have been waiting in eager anticipation for his return to MMA-type action that this latest 'Special ID' promises, in particular since Donnie himself has promised this to be the epitome of the techniques he had used in his earlier two movies.

Good news is that Donnie doesn't disappoint - as the action director and of course his own choreographer, he makes great use of the tight enclosed quarters of the sets to stage some thrilling MMA fights. Right from an invigorating opening that pits him against veteran Jackie Chan stunt team member Ken Lo in an old-school mah-jong parlour, it's clear Donnie is going for the jugular when it comes to his blows, kicks and head-locks. This is none of that poetic grace we saw in 'Wu Xia' or restraint in the 'Ip Man' movies; rather, this is no holds barred Donnie, and boy is it awesome to watch him in full macho mode.

And throughout the 100-minute run time, Donnie gets to go ballistic twice more - once in the middle when he first confronts his protégé turned arch-nemesis Sunny (Andy On) and again right at the end where the two go mano-a-mano against each other. Both are unique in themselves; whereas the first sees Donnie take on dozens of Sunny's lackeys on his own (think Donnie's one against many in 'Ip Man 2') within the narrow confines of a two-storey restaurant and its kitchens, the second gives Donnie more latitude to brawl with a well-matched opponent both in attitude as well as in ferocity.

Impressive though they may be, we do have a few caveats to make. One, much as Donnie had wanted to top what he accomplished in 'S.P.L.' and 'Flash Point', the truth of the matter is that you're probably not going to be wowed to the same extent as watching Donnie go up against Wu Jing in 'S.P.L.' or against Collin Chou in 'Flash Point'. Despite packing bare-knuckled brutality, it lacks the 'oomph' to make it a contender amongst Donnie's best fights. Two, despite adding Collin to the cast as the head of the mafia clan Donnie's Zhilong is infiltrated into, there is no match-up between Donnie and Collin - which in itself is already a disappointment. And lastly, even though Donnie had wanted a female Michelle Yeoh in Mainland star Tian Jing, the actress is largely unremarkable in the few scenes she gets to show off her moves.

Now that we've covered the failings in the action department, it's probably opportune to talk about the rest of the movie, which can be summed up in a single word - dreadful. Let's start with the script by the late veteran Hong Kong screenwriter Szeto Kam Yuen, who had also penned Donnie's 'S.P.L.' and 'Flash Point' - while the former two shrewdly chose a simple but tightly wound narrative around the action, 'Special ID' sees Yuen channelling 'Infernal Affairs' into its story of an undercover cop who wants out but is forced to take on one last mission by his superior (played here with comic but unconvincing effect by Ronald Cheng). Not only is Zilong's character arc of a tortured cop clichéd, it is tacked on with an equally hackneyed pseudo-romance between Zilong and his Mainland partner Fang Jing (Tian Jing) from which he is supposed to find a sense of composure to his brash aggressive self.

It might have been better if a stronger director was at the helm; unfortunately, the person behind the camera was also behind Donnie's most atrocious movie in recent years 'Together'. We're talking of Clarence Fok, best known for his work on the 1992 Wong Jing scripted film 'Naked Killer'; here, Fok literally 'f**ks' up the direction with poor continuity between scenes, annoying fadeouts and most of all, a utter lack of coherence in the tone of the movie - the latter in fact is particularly ingratiating, as Fok reveals yet again how he has utterly no clue how to build a credible romantic arc, in this case between Zilong and Fang Jing.

But Fok's shortcomings don't stop there - there is absolutely no subtlety in the entire movie, so much so Donnie ends up embarrassing himself by overacting in every single dramatic scene. Fok even manages to screw up Donnie's transformation from impulsive to out-of-control, a supposed crucial turning point in the story where Zilong's dual identity catches up with him and exacts a punishing toll on the one sole family member he has left - his mother (Paw Hee Ching); as it is, the ending that sees Donnie chasing Sunny down the roads of Shenzhen is rushed and jarring, another frustrating sign of incompetence by a director who should have stayed in retirement.

No thanks to multiple shortcomings, 'Special ID' ranks as a queer disappointment. Sure, one goes to a Donnie Yen film for the action, which he does deliver to good - though not great - effect; but there need at least be a competent story to form the narrative glue in between the fights, which in this case is sorely lacking. If Donnie is listening, we'd also advise him to simply stick with dubbing or with his native Cantonese tongue for his next movies - let's just say that his Cantonese-accented Mandarin is quite the unintentional cringer here.
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Pretty good action from Donnie Yen
dworldeater26 June 2014
As a long time fan of Hong Kong movies, it's nice that in recent years Donnie Yen has finally come out on his own as a leading man. While Special ID is not a movie of the same quality as the Ip Man movies starring Donnie or Kill Zone(SPL), I did still enjoy it quite a bit. Directed by Clerence Fok, who is best known for the erotic action cult classic Naked Killer. Donnie is a cop who is deep, deep, deep undercover who wants to be a regular cop and regain his identity. Of course his superiors want him to keep feeding them information and when the crap hits the fan, Donnie Yen fights everyone. To be honest, the story and most of the acting in this action packed thriller is average, but adaquite. Donnie, however is great and the fights are awesome. Donnie makes the combo of stylish martial arts and gritty streetfighting work. I can't regard Special ID as an instant classic, however it is a pretty solid action movie with some great fight scenes. I look forward to see more asskicking from Donnie Yen in the future.
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Clarence Fok and Donnie Yen deliver!
Movie-Misfit29 August 2014
Upon its release, Special ID got slammed by critics and fans for many reasons!

It seems that with Donnie, who is arguably the hardest working man in Asia at the moment, that his latest few years of film work has been very hit and miss for most. Not myself. I take each film for what it is...

But you have the new fans, who have joined the band waggon since Ip Man came out, and you have us regular fans who have been watching Donnie for 30 years now. The new fans just want more Ip Man. Most people, like myself, respect what is delivered!

Donnie's film roles overlap many historic moments up to playing the ass kicking modern day cop, without falling in to the stereotype that most stars have. So with Special ID, it was refreshing to see a little humour and a lot more smiling from him.

I love director Clarence Fok's films. He is corny and off the wall, and does many wild things with his stars. In Special ID, he does not disappoint!

Yes its not perfect, but here we have an action packed, ass kicking return to the late 80's/early 90's of Hong Kong cinemas golden age, and it does the job nicely.

Special ID is worth the watch. And not just once!
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Good fighting and cop movie, Donnie Yen sets the bar higher for MMA.
maoui846 January 2014
Thought I'd give this movie a hand, a long-time IMDb user, creating an account just because I'm outraged at the bad press this movie is getting here!

After SPL and Flash Point, this movie fits right into its sub-genre, which Donnie Yen is pioneering and he is going to be known for the choreography work he is doing in these movies in years to come.

Some of the review to this movie are phenomenally unfair. People are considering Sha Po Lang as a benchmark, and while it had great fighting scenes, it was incredibly over-dark. Flashpoint starts with the development of MMA in fight scenes, and does a great job, although the final action scene was really long. This film has some of the best fight scenes seen in a long while and it really brings MMA to the screen in an exciting and new way. (The guy who says Yen is the only one who knows ground-work in the movie wasn't watching, it seems.)

Not only that, the colours and the settings are grand, the first scene in a Kowloon-looking gangster hangout is fantastic, and there is a great scene in a restaurant as well.

The action is visually beautiful and emotionally tense, a great job with that. Maybe the car chase scene is a bit long, there is some Chinese cheesiness with the conversations with the female character, but it brings the action forward and Andy On is a great bad guy. Maybe the storyline unfolds quickly and not all the elements are there, but the characterisation of Donnie Yen's character is new and interesting, though they play on old HK conventions.

In short, this is a GOOD action movie for people who like martial arts movies and cop movies. Yen is reviving the police dramas that Honk Kong hasn't been doing well for a few years now (Johnnie To and Dante Lam being the exceptions). It is great fun, with great shots and even its music is not bad!

Thank you Donnie, for making action movies that are fresh, new and cool!
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Not quite the movie you would expect
garywongkleek19 October 2013
Pardon for my bad English, I am not writing a full review but only posting some of my personal thoughts after watching the movie.

1. The trailer spoils some of the exciting fight scenes in this movie. 2. Lower your expectation and you will still be entertained. 3. Not quite the martial art movie if you come all the way from SPL and Flashpoint 4. The fighting choreography does not come from Donnie Yen himself, I suppose. 5. The fighting is realistic, however, more true to the real street fighting than ever. 6. The car chasing scenes and the stunts are awesome, better than the fight, maybe. 7. Not a bad story, but without twist and very straight forward. You will not get the same story impact and the strong feeling for vengeance like SPL and Flashpoint. 8. I am a little disappointed that the final battle does not carry the same furiousness I experienced from SPL and Flashpoint. 9. Having saying that, it makes both SPL and Flashpoint a classics. 10.I should have just give it a 5-star, but 1 more star to salute Donnie Yen for trying something new, trying to create another variant to his already awesome movie collections.

My rating : 6/10

PS I found that the Young Detective Dee is a more entertaining movie if you want some cool fights.
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Special ID is really not so special... Read our review to find out why!!!
bobbystryker20 October 2013
Oh dear, this is really sad. Following something of a career revival with the outstanding Sha Po Lang, Ip Man and Wu Xia, Donnie Yen has really been unable to maintain the quality of his efforts. I fear he is slowly falling back to the ranks of cheesy unrespected action movies with which he had been associated for most of his career. With The Last Bladesman, The Return of Chen Zhen, 14 Blades and now Special ID, he's been having more misses than hits.

When teasers for Special ID started to appear, Internet excitement started to mount that this could be the sequel to SPL that we had all hoped Flash Point would have been. Alas, that is not the case.

Yen plays undercover cop Dragon Chan, doing the usual bad guy routine to get into the good books of the triad bosses. When trouble starts to brew in China with connections to one of his former underlings, his boss, Captain Cheung (Ronald Cheng), sends Yen out to work with Mainland Chinese police to crack the case. One last case before he can return to being a normal beat cop. Sounds good on paper but the execution is a sad state of affairs.

In China, Yen uses his usual unorthodox methods to meet up and reacquaint with his old buddy turned crime boss, Sunny (Andy On). Yen, predictable for a movie, is an unpredictable and reckless cop, which rubs his China police partner Fang Jing (Tian Jing) the wrong way. This is intended to introduce some spark and chemistry between the two but sadly falls flat, mostly due to the fact that Tian Jing looks like she's about 12 years old besides Donnie.

Of course while out in China, some rather unnecessary twists are introduced to keep things exciting, but they just didn't work and really didn't make a lot of sense.

In the end, what we have is an extremely forgettable action movie and another strike out for Yen.

What I liked about this movie was Tian Jing, with some of the best stunts in the movie and a memorable car chase sequence; she stole the best scene in the movie. Agreed she appears too small and frail to pose any real danger. She is, however, surprisingly quite convincing as a martial artist, exhibiting some pretty fancy and gutsy moves.

I look forward to seeing her in Jackie Chan's upcoming Police Story 2013.

What I didn't like was Donnie Yen's character. It is repeatedly reiterated that Yen's character is stupid but he can fight. We're no longer in the 80s where an action hero can get by just on brawn. No one wants to root for a stupid character but unfortunately that's how Yen's character is written. This is a far cry from Yen's character in SPL, a smart, super cool detective who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Yen's character in this is just a silly caricature, like something out of a kid's movie. Also worthy of note is the criminal underuse of Collin Chou. Nope, no Donnie vs Collin this time.

Andy On is pretty good as the bad guy and did a decent job of making his fights against Yen believable. Though what was not believable was why he would be doing all the dirty work himself if he was such an up and coming big-time crime boss, surely he would have sent some of his lackeys to take care of business.

Agreed, no one comes to a Donnie Yen movie expecting Shakespeare, they want to see some ass kicking. So how are the action scenes? Again, mediocre at best. The earlier fights were sloppy, likely in an attempt to make our protagonist appear human and vulnerable. Later fights improve somewhat but could have been cut and pasted from so many other generic action movies. The final fight is good but a lot of us would have already seen it in the most recent extended trailer.

Special ID is a pretty solid disappointment on all levels. What I loved about both SPL and Wu Xia is that they were both powerful dramas, the fighting was restrained and there were actually only a few fight sequences. This served to make the movies more believable and actually made the action sequences more memorable and impactful.

I can't bring myself to recommend this. Rather I recommend, if you haven't seen SPL – go and get it now!

Rating 5 out of 10.

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Not the stereotypical Asian crime/action movie...
paul_haakonsen2 August 2014
"Special ID" (or "Te Shu Shen Fen") is not your average Donnie Yen movie, where he takes on the entire world and lives to tell the tale. This is a more down to Earth kind of movie, with the right amount of action thrown into the mixture.

The story is about an undercover police man whose cover is on the line as he has to unravel a gang to expose the leader. But when his former friend and protégé shows up, things take an unforeseen turn.

I will say that the story itself was fairly mediocre, and there wasn't really anything out of the ordinary or anything that hadn't been seen before. But what made it work was the way that the characters were portrayed, as being fairly average people unable to take on a whole gang by themselves.

The fight scenes and action scenes were well choreographed and they had a very realistic feeling to them, whereas many Asian action movies tend to go an extra mile and throw a bit too much gasoline on the fire.

Donnie Yen seems fairly mellow and lenient in this movie, and it served him well, because it adds a good flavor to the movie, making it more realistic and enjoyable.

I am a big fan of Asian cinema, but "Special ID" hardly revolutionized the Asian action genre, nor did it push any boundaries. If you enjoy Donnie Yen's movies, then you should take the time to sit down and watch "Special ID".
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HK Auteur Review - Special Identity 特殊身份
hkauteur24 October 2013
The last time Donnie Yen officially put mixed martial arts on screen was Flashpoint, which arguably in my opinion was his artistic peak as an action choreographer and on screen fighter. He successfully made real martial arts combat cinematic. The choreography was shot in a way that allowed the viewer to visually break down why move A was countering move B. So with that said, my expectations of the MMA fights coming into Special ID were high.

My high expectations aren't out of place. Donnie Yen himself has said he wanted to go further with displaying MMA on film. In Special ID, Yen does this by integrating the urban environment into the choreography. The fights are set in tight spaces and narrow hallways, showcasing the physical precision it required from all the stunt performers. The group fights look convincing. Everything looks less staged and the moves don't land as cleanly, giving a gritty sense of realism. On pure cinematic terms, Yen succeeds. The choreography is another story.

The only wee complaint I had about the mixed martial arts choreography in Flashpoint was that Donnie Yen was the only one who fought with MMA techniques. Everybody else was essentially a kickboxer fighting the main character that had groundwork and wrestling skills up his sleeve. I let that go for Flashpoint, but in Special ID it has now officially become problematic.

This makes me think that Yen was solely concerned with making himself look good on screen. Yen has been guilty of this in the past but this is too blatant. Yen's fight with Ken Lo, a stuntman popular for being the villain from Jackie Chan's Drunken Master 2, is one such example. There were moments designed in their fight that purposely made Ken Lo look clumsy and stupid. Anybody who has seen Ken Lo in an on screen fight will know that he is anything but clumsy. Don't get me wrong, these are good fights. They are are tense and grueling, but it's too dramatically convenient if only the hero knows Brazilian Jujitsu and all the villains have no knowledge of countering it.

Much of the story problems -and there are many- with Special ID are the common problems I have with current Mainland-Hong Kong co-productions. There's a penchant for shooting dialogue scenes in a perfectly decorated restaurant or apartment. No matter what happened in the scene before, the actors are always seated perfectly still reflecting upon what happened. The dialogue is often on-the-nose that is stating things that the filmmakers are supposed to be showing. It is television-like and I don't know why it is the trend. The dialogue scenes in Special ID are plodding and murder every sense of dramatic tension. It's a narrative mess.

The female police officer character played newcomer Jing Tian was a severe plot contrivance and another example of a bad Mainland film trope. Her character Fang Jing was constantly spewing preachy dialogue about how police work should be ideally done, and acted too naive to be a convincing policewoman. It's like her character was written to secure an approval from the Chinese Film Bureau. She had too much screen time and it was like watching Hello Kitty fight crime.

I particularly hated the manipulative choppy musical score. It was in the vibes of "Hey, it's time to feel this emotion now!" One minute there's the metal music for the fights, and then the next minute it's pensive piano music when Jing Tian yaps on about following rules is the key to a good life.

Collin Chou shows up for what ends up being a disappointing role. It's actually a cheap marketing ploy to tease the martial arts film fans that there is going to be a fight at some point in the story. Collin Chou and Donnie Yen have fought before, so as fans we expect there will be something that will at least try to top the Flashpoint fight. But sadly, that didn't happen. After that, I was only half awake for the final showdown with Andy On.

I'd recommend people see Flashpoint again. Sure, the plot wasn't anything new, but Wilson Yip told a proper story. He gave little dramatic touches to the heroes and villains, which created proper stakes and made me care about the characters. Special ID has no developed characters, plot or any sense of flow or consistency. This was a perfectly marketed soulless product designed to take our money. And it was just plain mean-spirited.

I will probably watch Special ID again, but probably only the fight scenes in the form of online Youtube clips. I like these fights, but wished they belonged in a better movie. Special ID was just all flash, but without the "point".

For more reviews, please visit my film blog @ http://hkauteur.wordpress.com
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The rare MMA talent was wasted by a lousy screenplay and
rightwingisevil2 December 2013
bad casting, directing and worst of all, the careless decision by using the every actor's original voice. how could it possible that the mother's tone and accent is pure mandarin Chinese, a northern dialect accent, while the son speaking in cantonese accented Chinese? unless this so-called undercover son is adopted by a hongkongness foster parents and later reunited with his real mother, we could never get used to such big difference of accents between mother and son. and then, this guy's superior officer, my, is such a bad cast, who not in the least like a pencil pusher high ranking police office but an accounting clerk. then, the other two gang-bangers' stereo types are so lame and so formulaic, no big difference from their other roles in so many similar genre movies. i just wish donnie yen and all the cast in this movie speaking pure cantonese that at least the whole movie might look more convincing. but the stupid production people decided to cast a fragile Chinese doll to be the case officer from the mainland china and forced a awkward and embarrassing romance between the hongkongness undercover and her, their scenes just looked so contrite and unnatural. the mother role was also a cast of totally unnecessary. the dialog is also so stupid and contrite. this movie in general is a disaster from the very beginning to the end, simply ruined by a stupid screenplay, wrong cast, wrong accents, wrong arrangements almost every thing. to me, giving this movie 3 stars is already over-rated.
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A piece of rubbish.. but still better than Iron Man 3!
mc120002 January 2014
The Hong Kong film industry is a mixed bag with one side of the spectrum containing half decent films with fairly good acting and plot, and the other side containing complete and utter tosh story lines with the only redemption being the fighting. Hong Kong triad films (of which there are millions which gives you an indication of the type of people you will find in Hong Kong...) mostly fall into the 2nd tosh category. The only exception was Indecent Proposal... I mean, Internal Affairs 1 (and possibly 2...) which someone in America loved so much that they did an American version.

Donnie Yen has also starred in million of Hong Kong films. As someone mentioned, his career is also the same mixed bag. In recent years he has been involved in some respectful titles (Yip Man, Return of Chen Zhen, Painted Skin and Dragon Tiger gate amongst others). The problem is, he is known for his martial arts ability and poorly underused (or recognised) for his acting.

But I can't help but feel that he has been forced into being in this film. No-one in their right mind would choose to be in this pile of rubbish, much less a HK A-star.

Personally, there was one good thing about this movie. Despite being utter rubbish and a waste of 90 minutes it is STILL better than the rubbish that is called Iron Man 3, and that is why I gave Special ID 2/10. God knows how that other rubbish ended up as top grosser of 2013...
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dannibircha29 September 2020
This is the most real and authentic martial arts action movie i have seen in the past ten years - the camerawork is fantastic - the acting is great - the action scenes are something else - not only are they entertaining in a style similar to jackie chan but they are brutal - good story - cant say anything bad about this movie - except i wish they would make a sequel - unbelievable action sequences i have not seen alike since the days of early jackie chan - donnie yen is something else - check it out - you wont be disappointed ***** (my favourite part is the gang fight scene around the 31 minute mark where donnie yen is kicking everyone's a$$)
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Great action scenes
JacksonW052330 March 2020
If you go into this movie to watch an action flick you'll get that. It has great, brutal action choreography. It's what you expect from Donnie Yen. But it was kind of disappointing that they didn't really do much with a certain martial arts actor (Don't want to spoil it). I wanted that actor to do more but he doesn't get that much screen time. There were some scenes of dialogue that made the movie feel slow and I would've cut those scenes out and have more fights.
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5.5 - 6 is fair.
drpainters2 March 2020
Decent but script is a bit all over the place. Didn't flow overly well. Good action fight sequences , ok car chase. Donnie yen fans can give a watch, but I'd recommend kung Fu jungle(killer) instead.
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Jackie Chan's Successor
lotsoflaughs6 January 2014
I didn't know what I was getting into- my fault. I have never been and never will be a fan of Jackie-Chan style martial arts films. I was viewing this after seeing darker, more complex films like Cold War, Overheard, Blind Detective, etc. Special ID is slap-in-the-face straightforward in comparison. Donnie Yen as a roughneck is a hard sell. I did like his storyline, trying to become a cop, and I loved Fang Jing's fight scenes -it's past time for a modern action heroine; give her a movie!- and most of the fight scenes. I noticed the MMA immediately. Well done. His relationship with his mom was really touching too. I always appreciate Andy On, and he did a great job as well. So not bad if you know what you're getting into, and you like that kind of thing. Just be aware this is a little more explicitly violent in places. Sometimes the director takes great pains to show punches connecting in a way that is not even visible in real life, considering the speed of a punch or kick. (I don't really like this slow-mo detail. It felt gratuitous.)
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Exceptionally Entertaining
totalovrdose3 February 2015
Whether you are a fan of martial arts, or simply enjoy action films in general, Special ID is sure to entertain, with a story about family, honor, betrayal, vengeance and retribution.

Donnie Yen portrays Chan, an undercover police officer who has partially forgotten how it is to be a cop, his fellow officers having great trouble controlling his actions. Though he may have difficulty reading the police officer's code of conduct, when it comes to reading a situation, Chan is unmatched, his adeptly beneficent capabilities allowing him to often remain a step ahead of his opposition.

As always, Mr. Yen is wickedly entertaining, his unparalleled skill, breathtaking confidence and entertaining charisma allowing him to uniquely command the screen with physical precision and credible skill. The jaw dropping, awe inspiring fight scenes are as captivating as they are brilliant, the use of sound really heightening the violence sustained during the confrontations. Not only this, the camera-work is as equally amazing at capturing the moment, not to mention the richness of the metropolitan environments the film is set in.

When a crime boss is violently killed, Chan is tasked not only by the underworld gang he is associated with, but by the police, to investigate Sunny (Andy On), a former brother in arms suspected of complicity in the murder. To assist in his endeavors, the police pair Chan with Jing, portrayed by the incredibly ravishing and unfathomably gorgeous Tian Jing, the use of occasional humor, coupled with the reliable character chemistry delivering a fistful of fun.

As fellow members of the underworld begin to grow suspicious of Chan, his thoughts begin to dwell towards the safety of his mother, Amy (Hee Ching Paw). Wanting to escape the criminal world and return to the life of an officer, Chan needs to solve this one last case, where every move he makes, could unfortunately be his last.

Story-wise, Special ID may not be uniquely imaginative, though it makes up for this with its characterization, alongside the use of tension and suspense. Although the first half of the feature is excellent, somewhere between this segment and the film's final quarter, the movie seems to lose pace, the daring fight scenes becoming more infrequent.

The concluding battle will certainly remind viewers of Flashpoint, and the inclusion of a fantastically choreographed car scene will inevitably dazzle the senses. Moreover, Ms. Jing's capability to perform her own stunts stress her proficiency and flexibility. This aside, her character deserved more screen time, although I may be quick to argue this idea because by the end of the feature, I needed a towel to wipe the drool off my chin.

Regardless of whether you appreciate superb fight sequences, brilliant stunts, entertaining gun fights, police drama, or ogling beautiful Chinese women, Special ID will satisfy any action movie enthusiast's appetite.
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In which Donnie Yen kicks major ass...again
Leofwine_draca6 August 2014
A lot of criticism has been raised at SPECIAL ID for its production problems, resulting in a slightly choppy, hastily put-together movie and a story that isn't entirely satisfying. To be honest, none of this stuff bothers me when I watch an action or martial arts film; all I care about is the calibre of the action. After all, who watches something like WARRIOR KING for the story?

The good news is that SPECIAL ID is a film packed with the best kind of action pulled off by Hong Kong producers: wonderful car chases, hard-hitting martial arts fights, and all manner of bruising brawls and showdowns. I could care less about the story, as long as I see Donnie kicking ass in a well-choreographed way, and SPECIAL ID gives us ample opportunity to see the star at his best.

Okay, this film isn't of the calibre of KILL ZONE, or FLASHPOINT. But then, I didn't expect it to be; few films are. Instead, it's a decent thriller with some cracking and spectacular action scenes destined to be enjoyed over and over again. I really enjoyed watching it, and if that makes me an undemanding viewer, then so be it.
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A Special Identity
CowherPowerForever20 July 2014
As an American watching these overseas foreign films was never my cup of tea. However, since the action genre has really slowed down since the nineties, watching films from overseas is a must these days. I'm a huge fan of action films, and action films that either have a lot of fighting scenes or just action scenes in general. This film not only has amazing hand to hand combat, but chase scenes as well. This is my review of Special ID.

Some longtime action fans may know the names of the stars and the director, but since I'm fairly new to overseas films of this genre I'm basically a beginner, so forgive me if I get anything wrong. This film was directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung. While I'm not up to date on his filmography whether he has made other good films in the past, I can honestly say he does an amazing job in directing this film. The film starts out with a little action scene, hand to hand combat, and the scene is just amazing. You never really get action like this anymore here in the states. While the film really follows a basic and overused plot, the intense action save the film from being average at best. Even though there are not tons of action scenes in the film, when the action breaks out, it usually last a good bit. Case in point being the action scene to end the film. The scene was incredible and last a good ten to fifteen minutes. Some cheap CG is used as well, but you only really notice it a couple times during the film.

Overall, if you just like watching action films like I do, then this film is clearly for you. Do not let the fact that it is a foreign film turn you off. The action scenes are intense, and last far longer than our American action scenes. A popular streaming service just added this film to watch(won't mention name as I'm only here to reviews films and not sell things to people), so look it up and give it a watch. I highly recommend it.

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Not that good for Donnie Yen...but not terrible
destroyerwod16 April 2015
Donnie Yen's name usually mean the movie is gonna be pretty fun, i own several of his movies and despite not all of them being masterpieces, at least there entertaining. Then there the kind of Ip Man 1 and 2 which are just awesometacular movies.

This one i heard suffered from a lot of problems on set and it show. First of all the story is completely messed up. The movie try at some point to make you feel for these characters, but somewhat for a major part of the movie its just too hard. You just follow and ask yourself who is this...? Protagonist appears left and right and you just get the basic of the story. I never got into the story, as why this guy is a bad guy, why he is doing what he does, and they kinda try to establish a connection with some characters with minimal back story flashbacks but there so few of them it basically just tell you that protagonist 1 knows antagonist 1.

How about the martial arts you would say? Well, its really hit or miss, some scenes where pretty good while others where cringe worthy... Special effects even tough rarely used are terrible when they happen.

In the end considering i didn't had a terrible time, but was not either that much into the movie, i will give it a slightly average score of 6.

Donnie's acting help him get 1 more points...
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Clichés abound
kosmasp15 August 2014
You have to have a special place for Donnie Yen and not be too cynical about this movie to enjoy it. I'll give you that, but the action, when it is on screen is impeccable. He still knows how to do things properly. And I think he also has the charisma to elevate mediocre movies like this above their level.

The fighting almost seems realistic (apart from the one at a time attacking of the bad guys, which every action movie has) and the scenes are well choreographed. It's not only action though, as this tries to tell a story. A very predictable one, but that shouldn't put you off the movie. A nice action movie that might please Donnie Yens fan base until his next movie comes out
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