Bullet Points: Special ID
Donnie Yen is one of the best action stars out there today. Actually, he has been for quite a while, but with the popularity of the Ip Man saga he has finally gotten more notoriety here in the States. I imagine if Americans had seen some of his stuff from Once Upon a Time in China II or Iron Monkey then his early time working in Hollywood with Blade 2 and Highlander: Endgame wouldn’t have ended so quickly. He has a new release coming called Noodle Man which will hopefully turn him into the action superstar he deserves to be. Today, though, we’ll take a look at one of his more recent films, Special ID, with this week’s Bullet Points edition of foreign film Friday.
The Gist: Chan Chi-Lung (Donnie Yen) is an undercover cop who has been working on infiltrating a gang for 8 years but now he is starting to believe that he is being discovered. The mob leader then tells Chan that his next mission is to get information on Sunny (Andy On), a former protégé of Chan’s. Now he travels to mainland China, working with a new partner (Fang Jing), and he has to toe the line between gangster and cop.
The Cast: Donnie Yen is usually pure gold. He has made so many sweet-ass movies that I pretty much go into each of his films expecting it to be really good. I guess that is where I went wrong here. Yen, for whatever reason, just doesn’t do it for me here. He seems like a pretty terrible undercover cop; he meets with his cop friend too much, he gets himself into scrapes over meaningless young punks, and he constantly gets into it with his other cop partners. Fang Jing plays his lady-partner on the mainland and she is pretty tough. I don’t know how much I can believe of her fighting like she does cause she is only like 85 lbs., but I liked her character. The Captain was a straight-up asshole. He strings Yen along the whole movie, promising to get him his old cop job back but literally does nothing the whole movie to help or protect him.
Jing sure doesn’t have the look of a tough cop but she was pretty hardcore.
The Villain: Andy On plays Chan’s former protégé Sunny. He had become more powerful after spending a few years in America but he has a connection to Chan because years earlier Chan saved him from getting his ass kicked into the ground by three guys. We only get a minute or so to learn all of this and from the moment they meet each other again in the present, they really don’t like or trust each other. I wasn’t a big fan of On in this one but part of that is because he kept randomly speaking in English. I don’t know why but he did it the whole movie. None of the other gangsters had any personality whatsoever.
I’ve seen Andy On do better than this so don’t be turned off completely by this movie. He just didn’t fit this character very well in my opinion.
The Action: This is where Donnie Yen’s movies usually blow me away but they really lacked that effect here. The first fight scene had Yen not doing so well and just not looking for Yen-like. He finally picked it up mid-way through the movie when he got into it with like 20 guys but I was already out of it by that point. Andy On had some cool moves in the movie True Legend but he didn’t really get to do much other than the finale with Yen. It was a pretty badass fight between the two; a good amount of brutality mixed with Yen’s choreographed jiu-jitsu moves. There was a pretty cool car chase in there somewhere too but after watching The Raid 2 it’s hard to compare it favorably.
This first fight in the movie was a let down as it was weird to see Yen not beating the shit out of this guy in like 10 seconds. Also, check out the Ohio State shirt in the back.
Take it Home:
- Casting: Veteran actor Wenzhu Zhao was going to be in the movie but there were all kinds of issues with him and the script so he left the production. Andy On signed on for the film shortly after.
- Huh?: It’s weird to see a Donnie Yen movie where he isn’t kicking the hell out of everyone.
- Mother lover: There’s nothing tougher for Yen than when he won’t stop talking about how much he loves his mother.