Special ID

Dir: Clarence Fok
Star: Donnie Yen, Jing Tian, Andy On, Zhang Hanyu

There is no such thing as a "bad" Donnie Yen film, at least, as long as it contains adequate amounts of him kicking ass. There are, however, quite a few mediocre ones, and this would be a good example, containing nothing of note in the way of plot or characters. He plays undercover cop on the edge Dragon Chan, who wants to get out of his double life as a gangster, and return to normal police work, but is convinced to carry out (sigh) one last mission, in mainland China. This brings him into contact (sigh x 2) with a straight-laced cop (Jing), who is unimpressed with Dragon's gung-ho approach. But worse is to follow, for it turns out the target is Sunny (On), a young gangster whom Dragon (sigh x 3) mentored in their early days but is now making a play to move to the top of the pile. If you can predict this will end in a lengthy bout of fisticuffs between Dragon and Sunny... Well, you've clearly seen this kind of thing before - as indeed, have I.

And that's really the problem. Yen is playing almost exactly the same kind of character as he was, almost 25 years earlier, in In the Line of Duty 4; the main difference is, that didn't pretend to be anything more than it was, a selection of top-notch fight and action sequences, with the bare minimum of storyline necessary to connect them. As a result, Yen's flaws as an actor - and, let's face it, he is a martial artist who acts, not an actor doing martial arts - were barely noticeable. A quarter century on, there's no discernable improvenent in his dramatic ability, but the script here gives him a great deal more to do. The results are significantly less impressive than when he has support from others who can help out with the acting side (as in, say, SPL), and the rest of the cast here fall short. The action is, of course, undeniably decent enough, even if there's some occasionally unimpressive wire-fu. However, there's nothing here to pull it up to the level of the best work Yen has done elsewhere in his career, and as a result, the film will soon be every bit as forgotten as its unmemorable title.

[October 2015]

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