Movie Reviews

'Special ID': All brawn and no brains

By Gu FenghuiMovies - 22 October 2013 12:00 AM | Updated 2:48 PM

'Special ID': All brawn and no brains

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Rating: 3 / 5

This movie has all the ingredients of a smashing Hong Kong triad crime drama: An undercover detective who clashes with an investigator, trips down mahjong parlours and other gangster hangouts, as well as the ubiquitous street fights. 

But somehow, the ingredients are tossed and flung about and end up mostly on the floor like body count, and no one really knows what happened except violence of some sort.

In ‘Special ID’, martial arts star Donnie Yen stars as a Hong Kong undercover detective, Chen Zilong, sent to gather criminal evidence against triad bosses.

Playing the part of a reckless detective with no regard for rules, he also badly wants to get out of undercover work and return to normal duty as a police officer. 

On his final mission, Chen is sent to mainland China, both by the police force and his triad boss to uncover more about a young, ambitious and cold-blooded mafia boss, ironically named Sunny (Andy On from 'The Viral Factor'). 

There, Chen meets detective Fang Jing, played by Chinese actress Jing Tian ('The Warring States'), who clashes with him on his work methods.

While the heart-thumping combat scenes choreographed by Yen leaves the audience begging for more, the story is blade-thin as the filmmaker tries to fit in too many elements in the movie.  

The show opens on a fast pace as Chen gets into a fight with a Thai triad boss, followed by a head-on combat with 20 other people.

Yen worked in MMA (mixed martial arts), traditional martial arts and streetfighting moves into the action sequences, which are bound to please his hardcore fans.

Donnie.. you will always be Ip Man. Forever and always.

But things drop very quickly after the opening act as tiring dialogues and painfully awkward interactions between Chen and Fang follow.

Key characters and plot twists are introduced hurriedly and abruptly, leaving many questions in the minds of the audience. Sunny the villain could have been given more screen time to flesh out his character.

It is only towards the end of the 90-minute movie that things pick up again, featuring a fight scene between Chen and Sunny, as well as an exhilarating car chase.

Yen, who last made a splash on screen playing martial arts legend Ip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee, proves once again that his spectacular martial arts talents far overshadow all the efforts he makes to be a serious leading man. Without a good script and strong character, everything else just gets punched out of the way.

Also watch: Film Flush "Ip Men" special

‘Special ID’ is showing in cinemas