Written by Puño Estupendo
Flash Point reunites the team of director Wilson Yip, writer Kam-Yuen Szeto, and action-star Donnie Yen in a follow up to their 2005 collaboration S.P.L.: Saat po long (released here in 2006 and given the title Kill Zone). Though S.P.L. garnered positive attention and was a fairly good watch, Flash Point kind of falls a little bit shorter with its accomplishments. It doesn't fall short through any fault of the cast but more from just an overall lack of originality.
Donnie Yen plays the on-the-edge detective who has Internal Affairs all over him because of his rough-house tactics. He gets the collars but a majority of his arrests end up with the bad guy in the hospital, thus giving the whole department a black eye. Even by Hong Kong action standards, this premise has been done only about a gazillion times and isn't even particularly done well here. With Yen's character currently investigating a trio of Vietnamese crime lord brothers, it becomes kind of a poor man's Infernal Affairs. Yen has a man on the inside who has been undercover for years and is a trusted lackey by the Vietnamese bosses. This goes into a subplot revolving around the undercover agent's problems, but still just comes out as a tired rehash of other films.
But let's cut to the meat and potatoes here. What you watch a film like this for is the action and the entire cast delivers pretty well. Yen also serves duty as the Action Director and expands nicely on the mixed martial arts style he started using on S.P.L.
I found the fighting to be that much more exciting given the kind of unoriginal plotline. If anything, I easily could have handled a couple more action scenes with this. The submission and take-down moves that come from the use of mixed martial arts (M.M.A.) are given a great intensity and flurry to them by Yen's presentation. All sorts of aerial moves, and very quick punches and grabs, combine to get your heart rate going at a good pace. Donnie Yen is definitely onto something with his embrace of this style of fighting and it should pay off much heavier in films to come. It has the traditional gun play that permeates the genre, but the hand-to-hand stuff is where it shines.
Flash Point comes with a second disc of supplemental material that is almost more entertaining then the movie itself. Interviews, making-of's, and deleted scenes concentrate heavily on the fighting without all of that boring plot stuff getting in the way. Nothing dynamite on here but still worth watching for the insight to the fight training and choreography.
As a cop thriller/action flick, Flash Point is just kind of middle of the road. The action itself is where the true entertainment lies here and I have a feeling Donnie Yen hasn't even hit his stride with his new style yet. I think it's quite possible that if he gets the chance to keep bringing this to the screen the way he wants to, there might be something really awesome coming our way soon.