Donnie Yen’s (Ip Man) latest is from veteran Hong Kong director Clarence Fok Yiu-leung, responsible for many silly but nostalgic Cantonese films. Special ID certainly does not err from this trend, reading more like Infernal Affairs for the dumb crowd. The film has fewer plots than Street Fighter cut scenes, but there is still plenty to admire.
Dragon Chan (Yen) is an undercover cop playing a hooligan and running his own gang in Hong Kong’s market district. When an illegal deal on the mainland goes sour he is sent there by both his gangster colleagues and police chief to investigate. There he partners with the cute but tough Fang Jing (Tian Jing) who he has a fun and complicated rapport with.
It is not long before Dragon meets Sunny (Andy On) the main villain in this tale and a pupil turned rival from way back. Dragon must investigate the criminal proceedings while adjusting to the mainland and finding out where he belongs in the world. He kicks a lot of ass on the way.
Really that last sentence is all you need to highlight. The fight scenes are obscene grand sections of the film that never seem to end. They feel like a bubble cut off from reality where no rules apply, and this is the films most appealing point. Both Donnie and Tian are excellent fighters and move well and ultimately the film is here to simply have fun and highlight this fact.
Tian is an excellent supporting cast member too, her scenes and acting carry the movies less fight-centric moments and there is some good chemistry she has with Donnie. Andy On is ridiculous as Sunny; with videogame fashion and bizarre American catch phrases he is so larger than life that it becomes quickly comedic.
This is all well and good but the film is simply entertaining enough. It passes the time and is completely forgettable, which is somehow refreshing. It is nice that the film is built in this melancholic old school Hock-socky mold, but it does lose a lot of that flavor too when it ventures outside of Hong Kong.
Ultimately the film is best enjoyed with popcorn and beer, it is a good gateway for friends who are not fans of Asian cinema and offers some nice escapism in general.
Kwenton Bellette - follow Kwenton on Twitter here: @Kwenton
Special ID is playing in Hoyts cinemas now.
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.