Saturday, August 14, 2021

Raging Fire / 怒火 - Fantasia 2021 Movie Review

The Movie: Raging Fire / 怒火

The Director: Benny Chan

The Cast: Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Qin Lan

The Story: Bong Cheung is a righteous cop who is admired by the police force to have solved many cases. One day, his past comes back to haunt him when his sting operation is attacked by a mysterious group of criminals led by his former protégé.

The Review:
You can't go wrong with a Donnie Yen movie. That's been a general philosophy of mine for years and I can't recall a time where it's been proven to be a false statement, at least when he is in the lead role. When I saw this movie was coming out, starring both Yen and Nicholas Tse, I figured this was going to be an all out, high flying, guns blazing crime thriller and I am happy to report that it was an accurate assessment all the way around. Right from the beginning, director Benny Chan unleashes what seems like a never ending spectacle of martial arts action, gunfire, and explosions all of it worthy of claiming blockbuster style status.

Now that I've mentioned the director, and before I go any further with my review, I have to mention the untimely passing of Mr. Benny Chan which took place shortly after production wrapped on the movie. There is a moving series of clips featuring the director on set that are shown while the credits are rolling and you can just see how much he loved making movies and how the cast loved making this one with him. A very sad and emotional tribute that is also equally inspiring because it seems as if he got to live out his dreams before his untimely death. Okay, thank you for that moment. back to the review.

One thing that's always interesting about watching Donnie Yen in movies is how his characters are always very subdued and under control with that quiet confidence and then, when it's time to throw down, he unleashes a flurry of motion that is so precise, so violent, and so exciting that you can't help but dodge back and forth while watching to make sure he doesn't land one of those lethal strikes on you the viewer. His emotional mode in this movie is basically exhausted frustration and, as the story plays out, you understand why and then when the inevitable boss battle happens, the payoff is so satisfying for so many reasons.

From the beginning, there is an undercurrent of intensity that slowly builds over the course of the movie which adds to both the drama and the action. There are so many fight scenes, car chases, and every other type of action sequence you could think of in a movie like this although Chan balances all of it out nicely by unfolding the drama in real time and through a series of flashbacks. My only major complaint about the movie is that there are only a few female characters and they are all helpless victims or generic side characters. We can do better than that. Otherwise, this is about as good of a crime thriller action movie as you could ask for.

The Verdict:
Raging Fire might just be the best action movie you will watch this year. Yes, it's that good and of course Donnie Yen is in the movie so you know it's legit. Seriously, this is top notch film making which is very bitter sweet given the fact that director Benny Chan passed away unexpectedly after the movie was finished.

 To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Fantasia 2021.

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