Saturday, August 11, 2007

Invisible Target (Hong Kong 2007)

Invisible Target (男兒本色) consists of martial-arts, gun-play, chase sequences, crooked-cops, and the most shattered glass I've seen since the original Police Story. However, none of these things are bad by any means because it's a Benny Chan film, and who does Hong Kong action cinema better than Benny Chan? No one. Could be the best action film of the year.

Chen Jin (Nicolas Tse) is a heart-broken, bitter cop who lost his fiancee Ivy during a heist in which Tian Yang-Seng's (Wu Jing) and his team blew up an armored van and stole all the money being transported. Wei Ching-Hao (Jaycee Chan) is a young, somewhat naive patrol cop who lives with his Grandmother after his parents died in a car accident when he was young. His older brother Wei Ching-Da, also a police officer, disappeared and Wei eagerly awaits for his return. Fang Yi-Wei (Shawn Yu) thinks with his head, but still knows how to handle himself in action.

Six months after he lost his fiancee, Chen Jin's team is looking for a gangster by the name of Little Tiger, who works for Tian and is smuggling weapons in from Thailand. After finding where Tiger keeps his stash of guns, Tian and his crew show up on the scene. Since Tiger has such a big mouth, Chen Jin finds out that Tian is the one responsible for the explosion that killed his fiancee six months prior. Chen Jin is displeased with Tiger for not knowing where the money from the heist disappeared to, as it seems the mastermind behind the heist has betrayed Tian and run off with the money. Fang also finds himself in a run-in with Tian and his crew after what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. Fang and his fellow officers were caught off guard and attacked by Tian and his team resulting in a lot of injured cop's in the hospital. Ching-Hao is brought into interrogation because his older brother is suspected of being one of Tian's men. He refuses to believe his brother would be responsible for such violent acts, and chooses to believe that when his brother disappeared, he was going undercover within Tian's gang. It's through this suspected connection of Ching-Da that Chen Jin, Fang and Ching-Hao come together. Chen Jin and Fang want answers with revenge being the primary fuel that drives them, and Ching-Hao wants to find out where his brother is and why he disappeared without saying a word. After realizing that the mastermind behind the van heist goes higher up than Tian and could be one of their fellow officers, Chen Jin, Fang, and Ching-Hao have no other choice but to go rogue and do whatever it takes to stop Tian and his crew from getting to the person responsible for causing this mess before they do.

Right off the bat you know you're in for a good two hours of pure entertainment. It just goes with the Benny Chan territory. Invisible Target really is no exception to this rule. The story treads familiar waters, with money being the cause for so much death and betrayal, but again, you know you're here for one thing and one thing only: the action. Trust me my friends when I say that Invisible Target delivers it in spades. There are moments here that will have your eyes glued to the screen wondering if the person in that scene just died for your entertainment. Benny Chan films action, particularly martial-arts scenes the way they should be filmed. They're filmed at a wide-shot angle so you can actually see who's fighting who and it makes the scenes all the more intense and realistic. I have to say that I'm a fan of Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yu, but I'd been waiting for Jaycee Chan to really show me if he was capable of an action movie after having seen 2 Young and the disappointing Twins Effect 2. Big shoes to fill aside, Jaycee does an excellent job as the rookie patrol cop who is all about upholding the law and doing things by-the-book. He has a few action scenes that are nicely done, in the sense that they seem well within his capabilities. I no longer have any doubts as to his acting abilities after watching his performance as Ching-Hao. Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yu are both excellent as the hard-hitting cops Chen Jin and Fang, and Wu Jing delivers as the antagonist, as well as an excellent martial-artist. If I had any complaints at all, it would be minor gripes against the use of some CG and wire-work, but they are both used minimally and without those wires, we'd have some dead actors on our hands. There is one awkward scene involving our three main characters, shirt-less with a bottle of Red Flower oil that seemed a bit out of place, and strictly for the ladies enjoyment.

I have to say, Invisible Target could be the action movie of the year, but I'll keep my eye out for Flashpoint, the prequel to 2005's fantastic action film S.P.L., just in case. Even so, the Asian cinema viewing public should be grateful to have movies like Invisible Target, if only to remind us why we fell in love with Hong Kong cinema in the first place. (Lee)

Grade: A


No comments: