Raging Fire

Raging Fire ★★★½

Benny Chan’s final film perfects all the traditional elements of Hong Kong police thrillers and offers some of the most exciting action set pieces of his career. 

Donnie Yen’s physicality at his age is unbelievable, and his back and forth with Nicholas Tse both physically and psychologically makes for an exciting film from top to bottom. Yen delivers in the action set pieces and in the film’s more dialogue heavy moments. The fantastic stunt work is aided by the great use of handheld camera, a wide range of shots, cleverly paced editing and dramatic music. The stunts look great, they’re realistic when necessary and at times artificial to heighten the drama of certain scenes. A problem the film manages to avoid is over-stylisation, maintaining an austere style and not relying of hyperreality. When the exaggerated set pieces do happen, they work with the pace and tone of the film.

It’s a very cliched story, the typical good cop, bad cop narrative is nothing contemporary. At times you can feel the pace of the film, with so much energy put into the action, the smaller scale scenes can suffer. The court room elements aren’t necessarily enthralling but it allows the audience to enter the final act with good knowledge of the backstories and complexities of both sets of characters and the police force. While the story isn’t memorable, enough effort is put in for it to coincide well with the excellent action, which on its own will be enough to entice many viewers.

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