Raging Fire (Nou fo)


Shots fired!

(2021) Crime Action (Well Go USA) Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Lan Qin, Angus Yeung, Patrick Tam, Ben Lam, Deep Ng, Kang Yu, Henry Prince Mak, Tak-Bun Wong, Jeana Ho, Ken Lo, Simon Yam, Tony Tsz-Tung Wu, Kwok-Keung Cheung, Jing-hung Kwok, Ray Lui, Chris Collins, Fung Kwok, Singh Hartihan Bitto, Inderjeet Singh, Cheung-Ching Mak, Yee Tong Directed by Benny Chan

 

When Hong Kong was the action movie capitol of the world, Donnie Yen was one of its principal stars and Benny Chan one of its most talented directors. After the handoff from the UK to mainland China, the Hong Kong film industry, which at its peak produced 200 films per year, was absorbed into the Chinese film industry and became subject to pre-approval by Communist film censors. The by-the-seat-of-the-pants take-no-prisoners action that made it beloved by those who had picked up on just how special those films were became a thing of the past.

But this latest film, starring Yen and fellow HK action star Tse, is a throwback to the style before Chinese action movies became indistinguishable from low-budget American ones. An elite team of Hong Kong police officers, led by Cheung Chung-Bong (Yen) who is as incorruptible as it gets, are after a mysterious band of thieves whose ruthlessness and willingness to spill blood have made them a priority. To Cheung’s shock, he discovers that the thieves are ex-cops led by his ex-partner Yau Kong-Ngo (Tse). Ngo had been sent to prison after a riverside interrogation went sideways. Bong had put him there, and essentially their superiors through Ngo under an entire fleet of busses. He emerged from prison with thoughts of deadly revenge and a moral compass that had turned pitch black.

The two are headed for an inevitable confrontation and while getting there, Chan gives us plenty of amazing action sequences, including a car chase that you’ll have to see to believe, and all sorts of fights, mayhem and gun battles. Yen, at 60, still has plenty of action chops left in him (he was recently cast in the upcoming John Wick sequel) and Tse is one of the most charismatic stars in Asia. Having both of them in the same film is a little bit like Christmas in August.
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The plot leaves a lot to be desired; we’ve seen it before, not just in big budget American action movies (think Michael Mann) but also in a plethora of Hong Kong crime movies which have made detailing the line between cops and criminals something of a trademark. Also, for a movie that’s roughly two hours long, there is almost zero character development for everyone other than the two leads, which is a disadvantage the film never really overcomes.

But then another action sequence comes along and all is forgiven (there is an interrogation room sequence in which Ngo and Bong have a quiet moment that is the best non-action moment of the film; the movie could have used more scenes like it). One is reminded that at its peak, the Hong Kong film industry was one of the most innovative and imaginative in the world, at times rivaling Hollywood for clever action sequences. For anyone who remembers those Hong Kong action movies of the 80s and 90s with fondness, this one is going to be right up your alley.

REASONS TO SEE: Hyper-kinetic action sequences.
REASONS TO AVOID: The plot is mighty pedestrian.
FAMILY VALUES: There is much violence, profanity and some gore.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: This would be Chan’s final feature as a director as he passed away from cancer August 23, 2020. He was able to complete shooting and supervise the majority of post-production before his illness prevented any further involvement.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 8/19/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 92% positive reviews; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Heat
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Don’t Sell Me a Dog

New Releases for the Week of August 20, 2021


REMINISCENCE

(Warner Brothers) Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandie Newton, Cliff Curtis, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Natalie Martinez. Directed by Lisa Joy

In a future where the world’s coastal cities are being flooded by rising oceans, a private investigator of the mind becomes obsessed with a client when she abruptly disappears.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Science Fiction
Now Playing: Wide (also on HBO Max)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong violence, drug material throughout, sexual content and some strong language)

Bellbottom

(Emmay) Akshay Kumar, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Lara Dutta. A spy movie set in India during the decadent 1980s.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Spy Comedy
Now Playing: Cinemark Orlando
Rating: NR

CODA

(Apple) Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Eugenio Derbez. A young girl works as interpreter for her deaf parents, crewing their struggling fishing boat in the morning before school. An impulsive decision to join the school choir leads the tough choirmaster to discover that she has a unique talent, and urges her to apply to a prestigious music school; now she must choose between her dreams and helping her family when they need her most.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian (also on Apple Plus)
Rating: PG-13 (for strong sexual content and language, and drug use)

Collusions

(Vertical) Tom Everett Scott, Steven Culp, Jamison Jones, Tembi Locke. A police officer goes missing and five high-profile individuals become suspects.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Crime Drama
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

The Night House

(Searchlight) Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Evan Jonigkeit. After her husband’s unexpected death, a young widow is left alone in the dream house he built for her. But as she begins to experience unsettling incidents, she begins to investigate her late husband’s things and discovers that he may have been into something terrifying and dangerous.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for some violence/disturbing images, and language including some sexual references)

Paw Patrol: The Movie

(Paramount) Starring the voices of Tyler Perry, Ron Pardo, Will Brisbin, Kingsley Marshall. Based on the popular Nickelodeon series, the pups of the Paw Patrol must spring into action when their greatest rival becomes mayor of Adventure City.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide (also on Paramount Plus)
Rating: G

The Protégé

(Lionsgate) Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert Patrick. Taken in as an orphan by an assassin, Anna grows to become the world’s most lethal contract killer, but when her mentor and father figure is brutally murdered, she takes it on herself to get revenge, no matter how large the body count may get.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Action
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: R (for strong and bloody violence, language, some sexual references and brief nudity)

Rare Beasts

(Brainstorm) Billie Piper, Leo Bill, Kerry Fox, David Thewlis. A fiercely independent young single mother navigating a dysfunctional family and a misogynistic workplace unexpectedly falls for a young man with traditional marital values.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

Risen

(Vertical) Terri Purchase, Natalie Rose, Buffy Anne Littaua, Kenneth Trujillo. After a small town is wiped out by a meteor strike, an exobiologist is called in to investigate strange happenings at the impact site and discovers a horrifying truth that may mean the end of mankind.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grill Sunset Walk
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Annette
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power
Blood Conscious
Collusions
Cryptozoo
Demonic
Final Frequency
(Tuesday)
The Forever Room
(Tuesday)
Habit
Jurassic Hunt
(Tuesday)
Last Man Standing
The Last Matinee
(Tuesday)
Lily Topples the World
(Wednesday)
The Loud House Movie
Moments Like This Never Last
Mosquito State
(Wednesday)
The Outsider
Summer Days, Summer Nights
(Tuesday)
Sweet Girl
Wildland

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Annette
CODA
Cryptozoo
Final Frequency
Last Man Standing
Lily Topples the World
The Night House
The Outsider
The Protégé
Reminiscence