Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse wage war in RAGING FIRE, new on Blu-ray from Well Go USA
Hong Kong superstars Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse go head to head in their new film Raging Fire, a really enjoyable action movie that recalls classic, heroic bloodshed style filmmaking.
A tragic backstory sets the stage for the ultimate grudge match of cops versus ex-cops. Tasked by their commander to extract critical information from a gangster, a group of police officers led by Yau Kong-Ngo (Nicholas Tse) brutalizes the man so badly that he dies from his injuries. Their commander then turns on them, denying responsibility and leaving them to their fate, as another officer who witnessed the incident (Donnie Yen) speaks truthfully about what he saw.
Years later, an entire police response team is slaughtered while responding to a drug deal in progress. Their adversaries are clearly skilled professionals who know the police routines; the disgraced ex-cops, now out of prison, have fully committed to crime and revenge.
Donnie Yen’s character, Cheung Sung-bong, is established as an honest cop, to the point of being seen as a poor team player — he stands firm even when pressured by other officers or his superiors to bend the rules. This new threat is partially one of his own making, for it was his testimony, which he could have softened or altered to protect his fellow policemen, that put the disgraced officers behind bars.
But enough backstory—this is a movie packed with gunplay and very solid vehicular action. There are multiple shootouts, not only relating to the primary conflict but also involving other criminal factions that are mixed up in it. One massive car crash segues into a particularly harrowing firefight that takes place on a busy street full of fleeing civilians.
There’s a sense of “old school” style about the film which reunites a veteran director and stars making a new entry of this kind. Frequent gun-fu (including the dual-wielding good stuff), a tragic backstory, and personal nature to the primary conflict between Yen and Tse are hallmarks of the classic heroic bloodshed film. The finale even features a brawl set in an empty church — a nod, perhaps, to a famous scene from John Woo’s The Killer.
Yen has played a lot of cops in his career, so there’s perhaps some sense of familiarity with this material, but I really dug both the overall vibe and specifically the action on Raging Fire.
Raging Fire is, sadly, the final film from storied action director Benny Chan (Invisible Target, Who Am I, Heroic Duo), who became ill during the production and passed away as it neared completion.
Chan’s swan song is a worthy sendoff, and a throwback to old school Hong Kong action, fittingly bringing things full circle.
Raging Fire is available on Blu-ray from Well Go USA. The Blu-ray edition comes with a number of on-disc extras, including interviews with the stars and behind-the-scenes for the effects work. My copy did not come with a slipcover but I believe retail copies are commonly available with one, per Well Go’s usual packaging.
Special Features and Extras
The Making of Raging Fire
- Behind the Scenes (in 2 parts, 2:01 and 1:13): Dialogue-free montages show of the anatomy of busy action sequences: Action setups, car stunts, gunplay, CGI, and composited effects. As is often true in modern Hong Kong action, I’m very impressed by the seamless use of massive outdoor green screens and CGI.
- Donnie Yen Featurette (1:54): Mostly behind-the-scenes footage with some very brief commentary from Yen about how he takes on character.
- Nicholas Tse Featurette (2:26): Commentary with behind-the-scenes footage. Tse discusses his character and how Raging Fire satisfies his longtime itch to do an old school action film, and also pays tribute to director Benny Chan.
Raging Fire Trailers
- Teaser (1:48)
- Trailer 1 (2:00)
- Trailer 2 (1:19)
- US Trailer (1:56)
Additional promotional trailers for Well Go USA films play on startup and are also available through the disc menu.
- Project Gemini (1:52)
- Seobok: Project Clone (1:50)
- Escape From Mogadishu (1:58)
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