Monday, March 31, 2014

Film Review: Firestorm (2013)

Firestorm (Review)
China/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Edko Films Ltd. HK)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"If you enjoy action films, Firestorm does not disappoint in the slightest."

Hong Kong senior police inspector Lui Ming-chit (Andy Lau) sets his sights on a crew of professional criminals terrorizing the city with several high-stake and violent armored car heists.

Firestorm can be split into two types of films. The first half of the film is a procedural cops-and-robbers action film, while the second half of the film, despite its plethora of action, delves into the morality of the issue at hand. The film follows Lui, who wants to capture some daring and dangerous criminals, especially the notorious Cao who uses the law to his advantage. At the same time, To Shing-bong (Gordon Lam), an ex-con part of Cao's crew, eventually begins to see the trouble in his work -- I emphasize eventually because his character doesn't really change until the final act. The climax of the film, explained bluntly, is basically urban warfare. The cops and robbers explode, quite literally, into the main streets leaving carnage and devastation as the aftermath; the ending is bittersweet, and works very well with the rest of the film's tones.

Concerning the plot, Firestorm is a bit convoluted in its storytelling. The story is actually really simple, but the storytelling unnecessarily complicates it. Some of the editing contributed to the confusion, as it jumped from scene to scene; at the same time, some of the editing was really unique and creative, adding to the "wow" factor. The main dish, though, is its action. Firestorm is filled with chases, shootouts, and explosions -- all on a very large scale. If you enjoy action films, Firestorm does not disappoint in the slightest. For action fans, the climax of the film is worth the price of admission alone. On top the fantastic and consistent action sequences, there was some very unexpected emotional depth to the film -- it really dares to enter some very dark and provoking territory.

Andy Lau is great as the lead -- the character isn't really new or daring, but his performance is spot-on. Gordon Lam also stood out -- the character is hard to root for, regardless of the filmmaker's attempts, but he plays it very well. In general, the entire cast was really good. The musical score fit the mood perfectly, creating some very epic moments. The cinematography was also great. Some of the special effects, like a few cars flipping without believable physics, were merely decent; however, I really did enjoy the vivid particle effects. Writer and director Alan Yuen crafts a consistent action and an occasionally powerful police drama; although it doesn't deeply look into its characters, it does craft some deeply emotional dilemmas.

Overall, Firestorm is a great action crime film. The plot may be unnecessarily convoluted, but I really enjoyed the focus on both action and morals. And, the action is superb, versatile, and consistent -- there aren't many better action films out there. Action fans should hunt this one down; if you're looking for more variety and character, though, I strongly recommend The White Storm.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some gore.

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