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Firestorm (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 20, 2014 by  



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There is no doubt that director Alan Yuen has once again set the bar for action and visual effects in a Hong Kong film with “Firestorm”.  Featuring a wonderful performance from Andy Lau and a film that is riveting and action-packed, “Firestorm” is a Blu-ray release that I highly recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Well Go USA Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Firestorm

TELEFILM RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 110 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (16:9 widescreen), Cantonese DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Cantonese 2.0 stereo with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Well Go USA Entertainment

RATED: NR

Release Date: September 23, 2014

Directed by Alan Yuen

Written by Alan Yuen

Produced by William Kong, Andy Lau

Music by Peter Kam

Cinematography by Chi Ying chan

Edited by Ron Chan, Chi-Leung Kwong

Starring:

Andy Lau as Police Inspector Lui

Chen Yao as Yan Bing

Ka Tung (Gordon) Lam as Tou Sing Bong

Jun Hu as Cao Nam

Ray Lui as Paco

Michael Wong as Chief Superintendent Choi

A storm is heading toward the city of Hong Kong, threatening the lives of everyone in its path. As citizens scramble for cover, a crew of seasoned criminals stage a series of armored car heists in broad daylight, showing no mercy to anyone who gets in their way. Hardboiled police inspector Cao Nam (Andy Lau) has had enough. He vows to take back his city, but quickly learns that regular police tactics are no match for the thieves unmerciful brutality. The more Nam pursues them, the more unhinged he becomes – and the savage confrontation brewing in the streets may leave an aftermath even more horrifying than the devastating effects of nature itself.

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From action filmmaker Alan Yuen (“Robin-B-Hood”, “New Police Story”, “Shaolin”) comes another action-packed film starring Andy Lau titled “Firestorm”.

The first 3D Hong Kong police action film when it was released in the theaters and becoming a box office hit in Asia, Australia and New Zealand grossing over $56 million (US).

The film was nominated for five Hong Kong Film Awards and now “Firestorm” will be released in the United States courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment.

“Firestorm” begins with a group of criminals being released from prison.

The notorious Cao Nam (portrayed by Hu Jun) and To Shing-bong (portrayed by Gordon Lam) are released.  And for Bong, the only thing he wants is to be with his girlfriend Yin Bing (portrayed by Yao Chen) and start a brand new life.

But for someone who has lived a life of crime, he and his boss Co Nam are preparing the ultimate armored car heist.  With an organization that now uses high-powered weapons that the police are not ready to defend, these criminals have to compassion for humanity and will show no mercy.

But for dedicated police officer, senior police inspector Lui Ming-chit (portrayed by Andy Lau), he and his comrades are on the chase to catch these criminals.  But in the process, the police are underpowered in weaponry compared to the criminals, innocents are killed and Lui Ming-chit is nearly killed and the criminals escape.

Wanting to desperately to capture the criminals who have the technology and weapons to out thwart the police, will Lui Ming-chit do all that is necessary to stop the criminals in order to prevent them from killing any more innocents?  Even if it means becoming a dirty cop?

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VIDEO:

“Firestorm” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1) and the overall picture quality is fantastic.  Cinematographer Chi Ying Chan (“Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame”, “Tokyo Raiders”, “The Man wit the Iron Fists”)utilized a Red Epic camera and so the film looks pristine.  The film features great detail, skin tones look natural, colors are crisp and clear and I saw no signs of banding or artifact problems.

It’s important to note that while the film was released in 3D in the theaters, “Firestorm” is not presented in 3D on this Blu-ray release.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Firestorm” is presented in Cantonese 5.1 DTS-HDMA and Cantonese 2.0 Stereo.  Unfortunately, Well Go USA Entertainment did not utilize the 7.1 lossless soundtrack of the Edko Blu-ray release in Asia, nor is the Mandarin lossless soundtrack included.  But with that being said, this soundtrack is still magnificent.

The action scenes alone are immersive.  You can literally hear the action going all around you and it’s a soundtrack that utilizes the low frequencies and takes advantage of your subwoofer.  Dialogue and music are both crystal clear and I have to say that “Firestorm” is one of the best HK action film soundtracks I have listened to.  Although, I do wish the 7.1 lossless track was utilized for the North American Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Firestorm” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Of – A making of featurette with interviews with the cast, the making of the action scenes, visual and special effects, crossfire scene and more.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (1:45) The original theatrical trailer for “Firestorm”

EXTRAS

“Firestorm” comes with a slipcover.

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Each time I watch an Alan Yuen film, you know that you are in for a treat.

His films are generally action-packed and with each film, he tends to raise the bar of what he can accomplish.  In some ways, some may look at him as the Michael Bay of Hong Kong with high-octane action, major visual effects being employed and in the case of “Firestorm”, he was in the forefront of releasing the country’s first 3D police action film.

And what better than to team up with the popular HK actor (and still looks the same as he did 20-years ago), Andy Lau.

And Andy Lau continues to surprise me as he continues to entertain and in “Firestorm”, does a magnificent job of playing the character of police inspector, Lui.

For the first hour of the film, the story is not only gripping but you can see how the criminals have become too powerful, elusive and literally have the one up on police.  They have high-powered weapons that are used on the battlefield and they don’t care if innocents are killed, nor do they care about causing the ultimate destruction.

But we see how the character of Lui is torn.  Many times he comes face-to-face with the criminals that he desperately wants to put in prison, but he can’t do anything because of the lack of evidence.  And the criminals tend to use that against him, of how he is a good cop that goes by the rules.

And after more innocents are killed, including a heartwrenching scene of a child being murdered, Lui has to make a decision…disregard the rules in order to do whatever is necessary to stop these madmen?

The drama and the scenes work very effectively during the first hour of the film.  But then Alan Yuen goes into full-action mode and as an action fan, you’ll love the chaos that Alan is able to bring to the second half.  It’s the most destruction I have seen in a Hong Kong film and there is no doubt that it was created for 3D full effect to wow audiences.

But the problem is that by focusing primarily on the action and getting away from the dramatic element, especially from the primary character, the storyline has to essentially downplayed and transition to the ultimate popcorn action film.

And for Hong Kong audiences, action films often tend to favor the popcorn action and leave the dramatics to romantic comedies, wartime films or someone dying of a disease.

With that being said, I still felt “Firestorm” was one of the better action-packed HK action films (that takes place in a modern setting) I have seen in a very long time. The film is quite riveting and you want to see if Lui will be able to stop these criminals and how far will he go to do it.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic.  Skin tones look natural, colors are crisp and it’s one of the better looking action films I have seen from Hong Kong on Blu-ray.  The lossless soundtrack is also superb as it is immersive and outstanding.  But its Asian Blu-ray counterpart is much better thanks to it receiving a 7.1 soundtrack, while the North American version is a 5.1 lossless soundtrack.  You get your usual making of featurette and theatrical trailer for special features.

While it would have been nice to get a 3D version of the film that audiences saw in Asia, I do feel that HK action fans will still feel “Firestorm” to be one of the better action films to be released in years.

There is no doubt that director Alan Yuen has once again set the bar for action and visual effects in a Hong Kong film with “Firestorm”.  Featuring a wonderful performance from Andy Lau and a film that is riveting and action-packed, “Firestorm” is a Blu-ray release that I highly recommend!

 






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