Summary : Recommended for anyone interested in seeing what Donnie Yen is up to.
While Jackie Chan is the most prominent Asian action star in the U.S., Donnie Yen is still turning out the hits in China and could easily make the transformation to Hollywood star. While everyone assumed Tony Jaa had what it took to become the next big thing, he never had the charisma of either Chan or Yen, but his most recent film, Special ID, would fit right into the kind of action films we expect from a police procedural, with Yen choreographing some fun fight scenes, and director Clarence Fok delivers the goods when the action finally kicks in at the end.
In Special ID, Yen plays undercover cop Xilong Chen, sent underground to infiltrate China’s most ruthless gangs. Gang leader Xiong (Collin Chou) smells a rat, and wants to clean house. As Xiong deals with his mistrust, Chan must protect his identity, his mother, and his badge, from Xiong finding him out. Meanwhile, fellow cop Fang Jing (Jing Tian), is hot on Xiong’s trail, and may accidentally uproot Chan’s trust amidst the gang. Now, Chan must pull out all the stops to take down Xiong himself even while an elusive sniper keeps trying to take Xiong out.
Well Go USA makes a return to form with Special ID, presenting the film on 50GB disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Detail and clarity is what we’ve come to expect from this distributor, and Special ID is no exception. Aside from some blink and you’ll miss them instances of banding and noise, this is another stellar transfer. While not demo material, the Red One camera captures all of the action spectacularly. The Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track shines as well, with enough bass to make you feel every punch and kick while shattering glass, screeching tires, environmental ambiance, and the score, fly around the soundstage. Additional audio tracks include Cantonese 2.0 Dolby Digital, along with English DTS and DD, and English subtitles.
The special features are skimpy on this release featuring a two-part “Making Of” (4:06) broken into “Ultimate Combat — Criminal Underworld” where Yen talks about continuing the evolution of his choreographer from Kill Zone to Flashpoint to Special ID. “Extreme Driving” features behind the scenes footage of the chase sequences involving filming with real cars through real streets and Tian having to do a lot of her own stunts. The film’s theatrical trailer (1:35) and previews for Iceman, The Suspect, and Wrath of Vajra round things out.
Special ID is a lot of fun if you watch with friends who are familiar with the fighting styles Yen implements into the action scenes. A couple of friends joined me to watch and they both kept pointing out different techniques as they were employed onscreen. Special ID doesn’t come fully loaded with a ton of extras — and this isn’t Yen’s best film by any means — but for anyone looking for a good time, especially Yen fans, the technical presentation makes this a no-brainer and comes recommended for anyone interested in seeing what Yen is up to these days.
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