20 October 2013 | bobbystryker
Special ID is really not so special... Read our review to find out why!!!
Oh dear, this is really sad. Following something of a career revival with the outstanding Sha Po Lang, Ip Man and Wu Xia, Donnie Yen has really been unable to maintain the quality of his efforts. I fear he is slowly falling back to the ranks of cheesy unrespected action movies with which he had been associated for most of his career. With The Last Bladesman, The Return of Chen Zhen, 14 Blades and now Special ID, he's been having more misses than hits.
When teasers for Special ID started to appear, Internet excitement started to mount that this could be the sequel to SPL that we had all hoped Flash Point would have been. Alas, that is not the case.
Yen plays undercover cop Dragon Chan, doing the usual bad guy routine to get into the good books of the triad bosses. When trouble starts to brew in China with connections to one of his former underlings, his boss, Captain Cheung (Ronald Cheng), sends Yen out to work with Mainland Chinese police to crack the case. One last case before he can return to being a normal beat cop. Sounds good on paper but the execution is a sad state of affairs.
In China, Yen uses his usual unorthodox methods to meet up and reacquaint with his old buddy turned crime boss, Sunny (Andy On). Yen, predictable for a movie, is an unpredictable and reckless cop, which rubs his China police partner Fang Jing (Tian Jing) the wrong way. This is intended to introduce some spark and chemistry between the two but sadly falls flat, mostly due to the fact that Tian Jing looks like she's about 12 years old besides Donnie.
Of course while out in China, some rather unnecessary twists are introduced to keep things exciting, but they just didn't work and really didn't make a lot of sense.
In the end, what we have is an extremely forgettable action movie and another strike out for Yen.
What I liked about this movie was Tian Jing, with some of the best stunts in the movie and a memorable car chase sequence; she stole the best scene in the movie. Agreed she appears too small and frail to pose any real danger. She is, however, surprisingly quite convincing as a martial artist, exhibiting some pretty fancy and gutsy moves.
I look forward to seeing her in Jackie Chan's upcoming Police Story 2013.
What I didn't like was Donnie Yen's character. It is repeatedly reiterated that Yen's character is stupid but he can fight. We're no longer in the 80s where an action hero can get by just on brawn. No one wants to root for a stupid character but unfortunately that's how Yen's character is written. This is a far cry from Yen's character in SPL, a smart, super cool detective who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Yen's character in this is just a silly caricature, like something out of a kid's movie. Also worthy of note is the criminal underuse of Collin Chou. Nope, no Donnie vs Collin this time.
Andy On is pretty good as the bad guy and did a decent job of making his fights against Yen believable. Though what was not believable was why he would be doing all the dirty work himself if he was such an up and coming big-time crime boss, surely he would have sent some of his lackeys to take care of business.
Agreed, no one comes to a Donnie Yen movie expecting Shakespeare, they want to see some ass kicking. So how are the action scenes? Again, mediocre at best. The earlier fights were sloppy, likely in an attempt to make our protagonist appear human and vulnerable. Later fights improve somewhat but could have been cut and pasted from so many other generic action movies. The final fight is good but a lot of us would have already seen it in the most recent extended trailer.
Special ID is a pretty solid disappointment on all levels. What I loved about both SPL and Wu Xia is that they were both powerful dramas, the fighting was restrained and there were actually only a few fight sequences. This served to make the movies more believable and actually made the action sequences more memorable and impactful.
I can't bring myself to recommend this. Rather I recommend, if you haven't seen SPL – go and get it now!
Rating 5 out of 10.
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