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Raging Fire 2021 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Director: Benny Chan
Writer: Benny Chan
Stars: DonnieYeh, Nicholas, TseJeana Ho
The film world lost Benny Chan last year after a short bout with cancer. The legendary filmmaker worked with some of the best in the industry, from his early work with Johnnie To to directing the likes of Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan across a range of productions, including TV’s Fist of Fury and the award-winning Big Bullet and New Police Story. RAGING FIRE, his final directorial outing, is a culmination of that filmography.
It’s a flashback and a foggy Hong Kong skyline that opens Chan’s film, as clear a signal as any that this is going to be a throwback HK actioner. When we meet Shan (Donnie Yen), he’s a highly respected cop who has a history of being both uncompromising and successful on tough cookie cases. Years ago, a mistake he made sent his former protégée Ngo (Nicholas Tse) to prison. Now Ngo is back and leading a gang of criminals, and it is only a matter of time before they collide.
Following Chan’s death in August 2020, post-production took place without him in the lead-up to this release. Yet this is unquestionably a Benny Chan film through and through. It’s not long before the first of several big set-piece thriller moments drops, juxtaposing Ngo’s gang at work with a planned police raid that Shan has been kept away from. It’s a fast-paced affair, shot with a sort of occasional first-person point of view as the principals run, gun and trigger the first of several major explosions.
Of course, it’s not all about the big bangs. As with all good cat and mouse chases, it’s the personalities at the fore that make it worth watching. Yen and Tse, veterans of the genre in their own right, bring the weight of their personas to this awesome collision. Think Robert De Niro and Al Pacino meeting on screen, although both of them are great at martial arts choreography.
Nevertheless, it’s the slick thrills that ultimately steer this into the hearts and minds of viewers. Containing some of the best action sequences of the year, watching Yen leaping from a car and springing off a bus to save a kid is just old school cool. There’s an impressive game of vehicular chicken involving a car and a motorbike. A Heat style shootout in the fancy part of the Hong Kong streets drops like a bomb to the senses. It builds to the moment we’ve been waiting for, Tse and Yen fighting it out in a remodelled church, with all of the retro weight that comes with it. The only thing missing are some slo-mo doves.
As the film closes out with footage of Chan at work, coupled with a dedication to the late director, even the most hardened of HK action fans will probably feel a little emotional. Yes, it falls into the trap of overstaying its running time by mile or two, and it necessarily leans into several familiar trope traps, but RAGING FIRE also knows its audience incredibly well. Although Chan will be sorely missed on the world cinema scene, his legacy is secure with this exciting final bow.