Badges of Fury is a pulsating Hong Kong martial-arts thrill-ride starring the legendary Jet li as a bad-ass cop on a warpath of bloody vengeance!
No wait, sorry scrap that; Badges of Fury is an extravagantly silly Mandarin-speaking (yet inexplicably set in Hong Kong) wire-Fu schlock fest featuring a lazy and deadpan Jet Li as a bemused cop in a trio of inane morons including mainland star Zhang Wen and Taiwanese starlet Shishi Liu. Despite all this I had a blast and laughed till my ribs hurt. Badges of Fury fuses both an old-school narrative and a new style parody to brilliantly but foolishly hilarious results.
The story is rubbish, the pacing pointless and the character motivations and growth utterly ludicrous. Refreshingly, none of this matters one iota as the film constantly irks your funny bone with its shameless, energetic lunacy.
The film makes fun of itself, of the Chinese film industry, of other established films and even its own actors. From Jet Li’s character denouncing piracy of his movie Fearless to a Men in Black ensemble that use the memory device and other utterly pointless but frequently hilarious things I’d be guilty to mention lest you miss out on it yourself.
Zhang Wen is the star here; he and Shishi Liu constantly steal the show with the questionable relationship and power plays as she tries to keep his madness in check while managing her own insecurities. Some of their best scenes come from when they play good cop bad cop to hilarious and wrong results. There is the right amount of deadpan Jet Li, he offers a few background lines that complete the scenes he is in – it is a nice and warm feeling to know the cast had a ball with this film. The supporting cast are all top notch too; from a femme fatale with certain ‘assets’ and an actress under an evil curse, everybody has fun with their roles and it is a pleasure to watch them cause havoc in Hong Kong.
The major scenes are wire-Fu and feel staged, there is no tension to the handful of elaborate fights but this is fine as there is enough humor in them to keep them engaging.
There are three caveats’ I have with the film – firstly the fact everyone in Hong Kong speaks mandarin, it is a worrying trend to appease the mainland audience and hope it is not a common thing that detracts from Hong Kong cinema. Secondly, the film is quite uneven, jumping from melodrama, comedy and action in a heartbeat and in some scenes it lets down proceedings and feels confused. Third and certainly not least is the deplorable Looney Tunes-esque sound effects employed during the more slapstick moments. Despite the idiocy on display, there is no justification for these horrible childish noises.
Get past these (which I gladly did) and Badges of Fury is pure fun, and a lovely experience devoid of cynicism, black comedy or heavy meaning. Admittedly you have a knowing contract with the film – you either accept its intended stupidity or reject it outright. Honestly you will have a blast if you sit back and let the dumb wash over you, cathartically brain numbing goodness.
[rating=3] and a half
Kwenton Bellette - follow Kwenton on Twitter here: @Kwenton
Badges of Fury is playing in select cinemas right now across Australia
Mandarin w/ English subtitles
Kwenton Bellette is extremely passionate about Asian film and the resurgence of new waves taking place in Korea, Japan and China in the last 10 years. He joined the global site Twitchfilm in 2009, is the artistic director of the Fantastic Asia Film Festival is Melbourne and currently studies a film masters degree at Melbourne University. He is very excited to raise further awareness of the what he thinks is the most exciting film industry in the world.