Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Film Review: As The Light Goes Out (2014)

As The Light Goes Out (Review)
China/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...some glaring flaws with the story and storytelling, but I was ultimately entertained."

Hong Kong firefighters fight a vicious fire as it approaches a natural-gas power plant...

As The Light Goes Out starts off a little rough. Immediately, the film tosses you in the middle of a firefight while simultaneously showing the consequences; three friends disobey orders and end up disciplined, only one is promoted. A year later, Yip (Fai?) (Andy On) is captain, Sam (Nicholas Tse) is waiting for his transfer, and Chau (Shawn Yue) is a regular firefighter. As Christmas Day looms, a fire hits a winery near a natural gas pipeline. Sam warns his superiors, they don't listen. The boss of the power plant is warned, he doesn't listen. So, as you'd rightfully guess, the forewarned fire occurs and the firefighters race to fight it. That's about it. The film ends as one would expect, but it was emotionally effective.

There are three significant problems with As The Light Goes Out: it lacks character development, it's cliché, and it's contrived. The lack of character really made this film hard to follow and less involving. The film's main focus is on the firefighters, which would have been great if all of characters weren't interchangeable. For example, there are bits and pieces about Sam's background, like the phone calls from his girlfriend, but they never feel important; in fact, by the end, it's completely shrugged off. Aside from the lack of deep characters, the story is also contrived. This is one of those films where everything goes wrong; a blazing fire, trapped children, trapped employees, storms, entrance points collapsing... everything piles up simply to benefit the story. Finally, the film plays it very safe. Aside from an interesting fear of the black smoke, there really isn't anything here you haven't seen in other firefighter films.

Despite these glaring flaws, I can't say I didn't enjoy the film -- I did. As The Light Goes Out is an exciting and thrilling firefighter film. Sure, the story may be flawed, but the execution is effective. There are quite a few sequences were I was at the edge of my seat, as cliché as it may sound. I was rooting for the firefighters, even when I had very little idea of who they were. At one point, I even had a few beads of sweat on my brow from the excitement. (That may have been the spicy Mexican food, though.) As far as blockbuster action films with decent emotional elements go, As The Light Goes Out isn't half-bad. If you love slow-motion explosions, you'll love this.

The acting is also good. Nicholas Tse is a great leading man. Andy On is great as support; I'd just like to note, he speaks English very well. Jackie Chan has a great cameo appearance, as well. The film is shot well. I really enjoyed the music, it matched the mood well. The special effects are hit-and-miss. Sometimes the explosions and fire looked amazing; on the other hand, some of the flames and booms were ill-fitted. Writer and director Derek Kwok doesn't really explore the mind of a firefighter nor does he really expand the genre in any way, but his execution as a director makes up for the writing shortcomings.

Overall, As The Light Goes Out is a good action film. It has plenty of thrills, suspense, and explosions. There are some glaring flaws with the story and storytelling, but I was ultimately entertained. I think that's more than enough to warrant a rental or a cheap purchase. So, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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