Chen Zilong is ever going to return to regular Hong Kong police force, he will
have to fix those gangster tattoos. For the time being, they are part of his undercover
guise, as ruthless enforcer Dragon Chen. However, it will become increasingly
difficult to maintain his cover amid an ensuing power struggle in Clarence Fok
Yiu-leung’s Special ID (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
English is iffy, but his martial arts skills are top-notch. Despite his
clandestine mission, Chen loyally defends his juniors-in-crime during the film’s
getting-to-know-you dust-up. After the restaurant melee, Chen starts to
seriously doubt his position with the big boss. He also hears reports his
former protégé Lo Chi-wai is up to no good on the Mainland. Following
his trail to Nanhai, Chen teams up with local detective Fang Jing, who takes issue
with his cowboy style. She might be a stickler for regs, but the former Olympic
marksman can shoot and fight.
so, Donnie Yen stars as Chen and serves as the primary action director. Any questions? Granted, the interpersonal
drama is kind of awkward to watch, but the fight choreography is dazzlingly
cinematic, yet gritty and in-your-face personal. The film’s real bonus is Jing
Tian, who shows spectacular action chops as Fang Jing. In fact, she takes the
honors in the film’s best fight sequence, set entirely inside a speeding car—one
of the best close quarters throw-downs perhaps ever. She also has considerable
charisma, rolling with Yen’s goofball charm as well as can be expected.
significance of the unruly HK cop and the by-the-book Mainlander sounds pretty
blatant, but Fok never overplays the ideological implications of their Odd
Couple partnership. Frankly, the narrative-by-committee is about as stripped
down and functional as it can get, despite contributions from recently deceased
screenwriter Szeto Kam-yuen (who penned Yen’s SPL and the moody Louis Ko noir, Accident).
Still, if you believe fight choreography is an
art form, Special ID will only
strengthen your conviction. Fifty year-old Yen proves he still has his mojo and
Jing should become everyone’s new movie crush. Just like Shu Qi in Journey to the West, she proves Chinese
language actresses often get to do cooler stuff than their American
counterparts. Recommended for fans of martial arts and gangster movies, Special ID opens this Friday (3/7) in
New York at the Village East.
Labels: Donnie Yen, Jing Tian, Martial arts cinema