Hong Kong: 2021
Original title: Nou fo
Directed by: Benny Chan
Screenplay: Benny Chan, Ryan Ling, Tong Yiu-ling
Actors: Donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse, Lan Qin
Publisher: HK Video
Genre: Action, Thriller
DVD/BR release date: May 26, 2022
During a raid to arrest a drug baron, the police confront a commando of masked men who steal the goods and coldly murder the policemen. Arrived on the spot, Inspector Bong can only see the carnage. During his investigation, he discovers that the commando is led by Ngo. Bong’s ex-colleague, Ngo hides a tragic story that led him to a life of crime. The destinies of the two men intertwine again, while the hour strikes to settle accounts…
After giving us, in 2005 and 2007, two of the most impressive action thrillers of the decade with SPL and flash pointDonnie Yen had moved away from “contemporary” action cinema to devote himself – and with what talent – to wu xia in costumes, in particular with the series Ip-Man. However, the actor would still return to thrillers a few times in the years that followed: with the disappointing Special ID in 2013, then with the very sympathetic Kung Fu Killer in 2014.
The fact of seeing Donnie Yen return to pure and hard thriller with raging fire therefore has something viscerally exciting, but the fifteen years that separate Benny Chan’s film and flash point ultimately weigh rather heavily in the equation. Of course, despite some lengths, the film never turns out to be really boring, nor can we say that Benny Chan would have been ashamed of his last film, so complex, brutal and spectacular is it – the director died of cancer in 2020, and the film is dedicated to him in the end credits.
raging fire clearly benefited from a comfortable budget and impressive logistics, but the magic isn’t quite the same as before, even if it’s a bit difficult to fully explain the reasons. Of course there is nothing in raging fire that most Asian action movie aficionados haven’t seen in other movies, but that’s not really a problem: the pacing is good, and some scenes really stand out thanks to a frenetic editing and an impressive photo – we think of the one during which Donnie Yen visits the character of Ken Lo, or the last sequence, featuring the face-to-face with Nicholas Tse in the heart of a church under construction .
Donnie Yen also gives the best of himself in the role of an honorable cop surrounded by corruption, and the villain of the film, Nicholas Tse, is absolutely perfect in the shoes of the cop who has gone to the “dark side” and seeks to revenge. Thus, despite the clichés and hackneyed situations, despite an undeniable tendency to go to all excesses in terms of dramatization, raging fire manages to give us an interesting narrative – thanks in part to Donnie Yen’s patented gravity, but also to Nicholas Tse’s furiously fierce performance. And if nothing will ever come to take the viewer out of his somewhat too cushy comfort, the action scenes follow one another at a good pace and prove to be quite varied (from the shootout to the good old fight). That’s not bad !
It is of course HK Video which invites us today to see and see again raging fire in Blu-ray format: this will be the opportunity to discover Benny Chan’s latest film in absolutely breathtaking technical conditions. It is all the more clear that as usual, HK Video has paid particular attention to its High Definition master, which offers a particularly sharp and precise image of the film, with vibrant colors and excellent contrasts. The film indeed benefits from a precision and a truly staggering density on a bluish support: the level of detail is staggering on close-up shots, even when the film is projected on a very large screen. The color grading is sensational, the sharpness is of unprecedented precision, even on the darkest passages. A slight cinema grain and meticulousness at all times reinforce an impeccable transfer: in two words as in a hundred words, the image is worthy of all superlatives. On the sound side, the original version is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, and this mix turns out to be enveloping, dynamic and really full of pep. But the French version is not to be outdone since it benefits from a mix DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which will definitely impress our ears during the musical passages, of a truly disheveled dynamism. Great acoustic Art for a literally unstoppable HD disc.
The supplements section is also very neat to say the least: we’ll start with an interesting interview with Donnie Yen (10 minutes), having probably been recorded in France. The actor will come back to the different influences of Hong Kong cinema, and the way in which he has freed himself from them in recent years thanks to a rising “domestic” box office. He will then return to the influence of Heat on raging fire, on the complexity of the script, as well as his “natural talent” as an actor. We will then continue with short interviews with Donnie Yen and Nicholas Tse (approximately 6 minutes in total), and fairly typical of featurettes produced for Hong Kong cinema, with a few moments stolen from filming. We will finally end with a making-of-express (4 minutes) which will prove to be quite interesting in what it shows of the construction of the various sets of the film, the use of green screens and the visual special effects of the film. A wide selection of trailers closes the interactivity section. Note also that the Blu-ray of raging fire edited by HK Video is presented in a superb Steelbook in the colors of the film.