Special ID Blu-ray Review
Directed by Clarence Fok Yiu-leung
Written by Kam-Yuen Szeto
2014, Region A, 99 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on May 13th, 2014
Donnie Yen as Chan Chi-Lung / Dragon
Tian Jing as Fang Jing
Andy On as Lo Chi-Wai / Sunny
Donnie Yen, the current reigning champion of Asian action films, stars as an undercover cop burnt out by his assignment that has to balance his duty to the law and his duty to his crime brotherhood in Special ID. It is a high energy drama with plenty of action, but the true downfall of Special ID is that the plot is kind of weak. It mostly exists as an excuse to stage some very satisfying action sequences. However, if you plug in your brain and think about it too hard, the plot holes become Grand Canyonesque. That's not to say you won't enjoy Special ID, because if you enjoy these Asian, action, crime movies (and why else would this come across your plate?), then there's a lot to like. It features some of the best fight sequences I've seen in some time; especially for their raw and realistic feel. These are not your typical, overly-choreographed yet stylized fights. These feel a lot like the two main characters really went at it for the benefit of the cameras. It can be fairly brutal in spots. Couple that with a not-entirely-unique but still fairly spectacular car chase and a host of other well played fights, and you can string together a carefully edited action spectacular.
Unfortunately, it just happens to be wound around a story that just doesn't work well. It really does feel like just window dressing for a store with no product. The basic story about an undercover cop who just wants to complete his assignment and go back to being a regular cop could be compelling, but even though the characters are fully fleshed out, they don't breathe a real life into them beyond cardboard cutouts adapted from dozens of other movies.
I won't not recommend it, because I do think it's worth a watch, but don't go into it expecting more than just a fun ride.
Video and Audio:
Special ID is a well shot movie and the transfer is nice and looks crisp and clear. The presentation, a 16:9 widescreen, looms large and bright. The colors are bold and the darks not too muddied. Overall it makes for a nice visual feast, even if the rest of the experience doesn't quite hold up.
The movie is in Chinese with English subtitles, but offers an English dub if so desired. I tried both, and the English dub takes a number of liberties with the dialogue that in some cases changes overall themes and meanings of the interactions between characters. This is especially noticeable if one leaves the subtitles on while listening in English.
As with a lot of the Well Go USA titles, the special features are minimal, consisting of a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the movie and the original trailer. The featurette is fairly basic and adds nothing of any real value to the movie experience itself.
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