As the Light Goes Out (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
November 29, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“As the Light Goes Out” may not be the best firefighting film from Hong Kong, it probably is the more action intense firefighting film to be made thus far! If anything, don’t dwell too much on the story and accept it as what it is…a popcorn action film with a great number of action scenes. But the film is exciting and action-packed, and if you are wanting non-martial arts action from Hong Kong, then definitely give “As the Light Goes Out” a try!
TITLE: As the Light Goes Out
FILM RELEASE: 2014
DURATION: 116 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Subtitles: English
COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment
RATED: NR (Not Rated)
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Directed by Chi-kin Kwok
Screenplay by Chi-kin Kwok, Lai-yin Leung Philip Yung
Produced by Catherine Hun
Executive Producer: Peter Lam, Albert Yeung
Music by Teddy Robin Kwan, Tommy Wai
Cinematography by Jason Kwan
Edited by Matthew Hui, Hoi Wong
Production Design by Che Kiu Lam
Nicholas Tse as He Yong Sen (Sam)
Shawn Yue as You Bang Chau
Simon Yam as Lee Pei Dau
Hu Jun as Hai YAng
Michelle Bai as Yang Lin
William Chan as Chang Wen Jian
Andy On as Ye Zhi Hui
Patrick Tam as Mr. Wan
Cameo by Jackie Chan, Andrew Lau and Siu Yam-yam
It’s Christmas Eve in Hong Kong, and while the residents prepare to celebrate, a dedicated band of brothers – the firefighters of Pillar Point Division (Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Andy On) are dispatched to a warehouse fire. What they find there first plunges the city into darkness, then threatens a far worse fate for them all. When every move could mean sudden death, the bonds between the men are tested, and dangerous truths uncovered. Will they be able to trust each other enough to make it through the night, saving themselves and the city they ve sworn to protect?
Filmmaker Chi-kin Kwok has been on a streak of hit action films.
From his 2010 film “Gallants” and his 2013 film “Journey to the West”, Kwok leaves the martial arts genre for a little while to focus on his 2014 action/drama film about firefighters trying to survive in “As the Light Goes Out”.
And now the film was released in the United States courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.
In HK cinema, we rarely see film about firefighters. While Johnny To’s 1997 film “Lifeline” is probably the best know Hong Kong film about firefighters, Chi-kin Kwok adds his passion for the action genre in his latest film. But instead of fighting, this time it’s all about survival.
The film revolves around three friends who are firefighters: Sam (portrayed by Nicholas Tse), Yip (portrayed by Andy On) and their senior station officer Chill (portrayed by Shawn Yue). After a mistake made by Sam, all three agree to take the blame but after Sam and Yip decide to back down, Chill takes the blame for the mishap.
Three years later, Yip has moved up as part of firefighting admin, Chill was demoted and because of that, his marriage had failed. While Sam, feeling bad about what he did, he has a phobia of fires and is to be transferred to another area, thanks to Yip’s new influence as part of the admin.
The day before Sam is to be transferred to a new station, a fire takes place in a residential area and Sam, Chill, Ocean (who transferred from China) and Major Pui (portrayed by Simon Yam) try to investigate what is causing the fire, but are dismayed by Ocean always wanting to do things on his own to rescue people and not consider his fellow fire fighters.
But while the group were able to finish one fire, they fear that something bad may happen with the natural gas pipes being nearby the area. The natural gas pipes are what fuels the power for Hong Kong but if the pipes were to go, it would become a major disaster.
But as Yip wants his men to investigate, when Yip arrives and finds out that Sam was making decisions that he was uncomfortable with and lets him know about it, Sam decides to call off any investigation and everyone to return back to the station.
While everyone prepares for Christmas Eve and Sam prepares to be transferred, Sam does his research of the area and tries to tell Yip that he wants to go back. Yip is angered that Sam called off the investigation and now wants to go back. He tells him to wait the two hours until their superior arrives and then he could leave.
But instead of waiting, Sam and a few of his men go to check out the power plant. As Sam and Chill investigate the Power Plant, Chill is unaware that his son and his friends who are at the power plant for a field trip, have wandered off away from the other students.
Meanwhile, Ocean and an employee at the power plant find out that the natural gas pipes are unstable and they must turn it off immediately. But as they are successful in turning it off, the power plant manager decides to turn them back on which causes a severe blast which disables power all over Hong Kong.
Leaving firefighters trapped inside the power plant along with surviving employees. Can Sam and his fellow firefighters rescue them in time? And will Chill be able to rescue his son and his schoolmates who are trapped inside the power plant?
“As the Light Goes Out” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:38:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is very good as skin tones look natural and closeups featured great detail. A lot of the scenes were shot inside a dark room or during the night, but in those instances where there is good lighting, the film looked very good. During scenes with fire, I didn’t notice any banding issues or artifacts.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“As the Light Goes Out” is presented in Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HD MA and due to the number of scenes with action, surround channels are well-utilized and there is a good amount of LFE to capture every blast and explosion.
Subtitles are in English.
“As the Light Goes Out” comes a theatrical trailer.
“As the Light Goes Out” is an action-packed film that showcases Hong Kong firefighters, educating the public of how most people die from smoke inhalation than the fire itself but also the danger of firefighting.
For the most part, this is a disaster film as firefighters are trapped inside an underground power plant. As one can expect, structures have fallen apart, blocking all exits. The only way to leave the facility is go through areas where all that is left is pieces of metal, metal bridges that are about to go down at anytime and a bottom that you can’t see anything, but know if you fall over, you’re dead.
But as the beginning of the film sets up how smoke inhalation is how most people die in a fire, we see clouds of smoke and thus, the appearance of smoke (may it be plumes of black smoke or sulfuric yellow smoke) becomes the primary antagonist of the film.
And as one can expect from a major city as Hong Kong being hit with power failure and people trapped in the freeways, people trapped in elevators, all during Christmas Eve and to make things worse, people are dealing with hot and humid weather and what else can add to the misery of the fire fighters…. a typhoon is about to hit them.
If anything, “As the Light Goes Out” is a fascinating and exciting action film that is all about survival and getting out of the building, wondering who lives and who dies and which one will survive by the end of the film.
The film adds a lot of improbable moments mainly for tension. We see Chill going into the burning power plant in search for his son and at a school field trip, when are field trips conducted with young children at night? And teachers taking young children’s response that everyone is inside a school bus and they could leave? There are very few teachers who make stupid mistakes, but this one…it’s too ludicrous.
We are also having to deal with a major catastrophic event after a major tragedy as the fire department loses one of their own. No investigations, no administrative leave, it’s just a plot to setup a storyline of one firefighter’s guilt.
And was it necessary for actor Andy On speak English, while everyone is speaking Cantonese?
Nevertheless, I do like the cast of this film. It’s great to see Nicholas Tse in an action role alongside Shawn Yue, Andy On and even Simon Yam. And it was good to see a few cameos, especially with Jackie Chan and Andrew Lau.
But sometimes the pacing was off and everything was too formulaic to the point that everytime something good is about to happen, you will expect something ten times worse to happen to the main characters. For example, people try to escape by bridge and then the bridge breaks down. Another example, just when the coast looks clear for the firefighter and rescuees, we learn that a typhoon is coming out of nowhere, which will push the smoke back inside the building.
With that being said, I can’t really be too critical because even in Hollywood, this is part of the formula of the popcorn action genre. Action, more action and keep it sustained for nearly two hours. Making sure that each action sequence outdoes the other previous scene and to give one final bang for the film’s finale. And in this case, director Kwok follows the formula quite well by making sure that bad things happen over and over again, but those bad things translate into chaotic action scenes.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good, showcasing great clarity and detail and the lossless soundtrack is immerse and sounds fantastic. But for a film of this magnitude, the fact that there are no special features but its two minute trailer was surprising.
Overall, “As the Light Goes Out” may not be the best firefighting film from Hong Kong, it probably is the more action intense firefighting film to be made thus far! If anything, don’t dwell too much on the story and accept it as what it is…a popcorn action film with a great number of action scenes. But the film is exciting and action-packed, and if you are wanting non-martial arts action from Hong Kong, then definitely give “As the Light Goes Out” a try!
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