MMA is very versatile.
Flash Point, released in 2007, is the most recent Donnie Yen film I have watched. I became a fan of Yen’s after viewing Ip Man several years ago, a story that a lot of Yen’s fans can probably tell. While logging time at my other sounding board (Mass Listeria podcast — go check it out!), my friend and fellow podcaster, Tim, mentioned Flash Point as featuring one of his favorite action scenes of all time. Of course I had to check it out, and I was not let down.
Flash Point tells a rather standard action-movie story; in mid-1990s, British-controlled Hong Kong, undercover cop Wilson (Louis Koo) is trying to bust drug-dealing brothers, Tony (Collin Chou), Archer (Ray Lui), and Tiger (Xing Yu). Wilson’s partner, Detective Sergeant Ma Jun (Yen), is heading up the investigation, and the team is very close to catching the gang and putting them out of business. Needless to say things don’t go as planned, and a whole lot of hand-to-hand combat is necessary.
The film does a good job of taking the run-of-the-mill action plot and subverting it. The drug dealing brothers, while scumbags, still take care of their mother, who may or may not be in on their scheming. Wilson fancies himself a ladies’ man but falls head over heels in love with a gang groupie (not to be confused with a gang-bang groupie, which is entirely different). Ma Jun is a by-the-books detective who will also throw down in MMA style with criminals, complete with body slams and chokes, if he feels the information he is getting isn’t enough. Flash Point plays fast and loose with police procedures and it is much better for it.
If there is one criticism I would level at the film, it is with the subtitling in the fist twenty minutes or so. Most of the time, dubbed versions are pointed to as having bad translations, but the version of Flash Point that I watched (via Amazon Prime) was very confusing at the start. It was easy enough to figure out what was going on by context clues, but this shouldn’t be necessary. The translation got better as the film progressed, but it still had it’s moments. I expect these problems with dubbing, but subtitles are supposed to be a bit easier to follow.
Now most people that watch a Donnie Yen movie are wanting to see some good fights — and Flash Point doesn’t disappoint — but if you’re looking for Ip Man style traditionalism you’ve come to the wrong place. Flash Point features highly stylized street fighting. This isn’t to say that traditional martial arts don’t make appearances (they do), rather the fights in the film definitely share more in common with Rampage Jackson than Ip Man. There is a fight in a market stall, the one that Tim mentioned to me, that has to be seen to be believed. Flash Point’s release coincided with the increased interest in MMA, leading Yen to choreograph the fight sequences in the manner that he did.
Overall, Flash Point is a really good action/ crime movie that should satisfy devotees and newcomers alike. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it hits all the main points that fans of the various genres will enjoy. As long as a viewer makes it through the first wonky bit of sub-titling, they will be in for a fun ride. and a word of caution: don’t get in a fight with Donnie Yen. He will make you regret it.
Until next time…