Flash Point's Phony Gravitas

Almost fun when it plays dumb

Cops catch felons: That's what passes for philosophy with Donnie Yen's police sergeant in the inane Flash Point, a gangland thriller that's set on the eve of Hong Kong's hand-over to China but doesn't go further than alluding to the seriousness of the contentious political atmosphere. Such phony gravitas is disappointing, because the film is almost fun when it plays dumb: Not since Bangkok Dangerous has such exciting use been made of electronic music, and Wilson Yip's colorful comic-book frames accommodate some sick action sequences and giddy non sequiturs. The ability of the film's characters to inflict and sustain superhuman pain may not be typical of cops or Triad gangsters, but there's a crazed elegance to all the flying limbs and the ease with which objects as big as tables are wielded as weapons. A thug with a ginormous blade lunges out of nowhere to slice a cop's extended arm, a bomb is hidden inside the cavity of a fat-ass chicken, and a child is cruelly but comically flipped upside down and used as protective leverage. Too bad, then, that Flash Point treats its audience like dogs, making us suffer through routine, almost inscrutable plot points and inconsequential characterizations to get to these episodes, and as such reveals itself as nothing more than a dumb action picture with delusions of Johnnie To–dom.

 
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