Firestorm Blu-ray Review
This must be the Hong Kong equivalent of generic action films. The combat roars on screen, but once the gunfire dies down it feels empty and lost in it’s search for a plausible, original story. FIRESTORM is still a real thrill to watch when guns are drawn and unlike the typical action sequences here in the States, the fist fights have a very fun craft. Call it refined, but it’s more than a brawl about who can hit the hardest. I could gloat more about the police vs. criminals free-for-all, but sadly this movie isn’t the entertaining rampage it could have been.
Crime kingpin, Cao Nam (Hu Jun), has the city right in the palm of his hands. Heists appear to be a weekly occurence, his henchmen have military grade weaponry and his lack of passion is highlighted in his careless disregard civilian life. Hoping to be one step ahead, and sometimes hot on the trail, is detective Lui (Lau). Every plan is well oiled, nearly to perfection, but since Nam doesn’t play by any rules, Nam is constantly ready for every scenario. Lui slowly realizes he’s going to need to change his ethical tactics.
As hard as FIRESTORM tries, there’s no reason to expect anymore in terms of characters, depth or story. That’s not to say Lau and others try their hardest in terms of acting. It just feels like shoddy writing when I’m constantly clicking to see the timestamp and how long it’s been since the last blood splattered brawl. Since FIRESTORM’s meat and potatoes is action, it’s puzzling to watch them load their plate up with a weak morality play and cramming what little remaining space they have with backstory.
Some of the dramatic moments of the movie could have worked if they weren’t so overloaded with information to digest. Bong (Lam), an ex-con, is brought in o help in Lui’s investigation, hoping to turn his life around. Then the movie brings in former gangster, Tong (Patrick Keung) and the subplots start flying off the handle. There’s about four to five different characters all struggling to find their way and there’s never enough time to invest oneself into any of their lives. And even if you were to become an investor, their rapid and sometimes unexplained growth, are a complete turn off. Don’t get me started on Tong, who becomes so upset with his girlfriend, he contemplates shooting her and then after thinking it over says, “Let’s get married.”
With that ridiculousness aside, let’s marvel in the cinematography and fight choreography. Well, maybe not. For every fun sequence, there’s some unnecessary CGI at work here. As if to have a poetic firefight, a truck full of pigeons is shifted releasing the avian swarm on our detective. It’s supposed to look beautiful, but the CGi makes it look silly and unwarranted. Although I’m sure it’s a lot harder to control the direction of hundreds of birds and then gather them back together for a second take. Outside that scene, I can forgive FIRESTORM’s CGI for some of it’s more inspired and original moments, including the ending battle in downtown Hong Kong.
FIRESTORM is a tough sell, it’s definitely not without it’s structural flaws and the agonizing character developments really drag it out. On one hand, if you find yourself enjoying some senseless brutality and can’t quite turn down a little bit of gunplay, FIRESTORM is worth a glance. It’s a simple cop-crime movie that can be enjoyed, but it doesn’t deserve a spot next to my other movies.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:38:1) Fantastic picture presentation. A bleak movie matched by the cold industrial colors of the city. As I’ve stated, the CGI is off putting, but with such a crystal clear image, you can really appreciate the workmanship for the real stunts.
Audio: (Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) This is how an action movie should be mixed. The explosions rattling the speakers and the conversations lulling you back into calm. A real crisp experience in terms of audio.
Making Of (21:20): This is a collection of selectable featurettes, that you can choose seperately and they will play at the specific interval of the 21 minute length. It is interviews and a behind the scenes look. It’s not interesting half the time, but it is short and to the point. Anyone hoping for meatier details will be disappointed.