Movie review: SPECIAL ID

Donnie Yen BJJ in Special ID still


Chinese title: 特殊身份
Rated: P13
Genre: Action, martial arts, MMA
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin, English
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Clarence Fok
Writer: Clarence Fok (?)
Cast: Donnie Yen, Andy On, Collin Chau. Ronald Cheng

Synopsis: Chen an undercover police officer in one of China’s most ruthless underworld gangs. The gang leader, Xiong has made it his priority to weed out the government infiltrators. As Chen’s undercover comrades disappears one by one, Chen fears he will be next. Now he must risk everything to take down the organization and reclaim his life and his ID before it’s too late.

Release date in Malaysia: October 18th 2013
Distributor / studio: Ram Entertainment / Beijing Starlit Movie (and more)

Watch trailer

Verdict: There are only two reasons to watch this - the comical side of Donnie Yen, and of course, the fight scenes. Immediately from the very beginning of the film, one should be able to notice the cheap-looking China production and poor taste of direction with amateurish acting, hardcore in-your-face product placements and pornography-like music. But it's no surprise if you know this particular director who's more known for making raunchy action flicks. Despite being quite a cliched Hong Kong police/undercover action movie, it somehow still manages to be messy with extremely poorly executed childish dialogues. The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) grappling-focus mixed martial arts (MMA) street-brawls are well choreographed and probably had never been done before, but it's insufficient, not perfectly executed and lacks of a gritty-wow factor. Compared to SPL - Kill Zone (2005) and Flash Point (2007), Special ID is truly an embarrassment. Just fortunately it isn't as bad as Jet Li's Badges of Fury.

Second opinion: My girlfriend thought that it was neither good or bad, it's just very typical of a police/undercover action movie. Although the voice dubbing annoyed her, she thought the fight scenes were cool and believes that even people who doesn't know about MMA may probably feel the same way.

What "Special ID" means: From what I've interpreted, it only means an undercover cop whose real identity is known by another police force who he has to collaborate with for a case. Which is quite stupid if you asked me.

Donnie Yen gangster in Special ID still

On the performance of the main cast: Donnie Yen's comical and naughty rascal-like acting in the film is passable and refreshing (to see him play such a role) but as for the emotional side of his character (Chan Zhi Long), I just didn't feel it at all. The righteous-less, egoistic, and self-assured spoiled brat-like antagonist Sunny is played by Andy On, who did an okay job, but no idea why he had to jumble up all Cantonese, Mandarin and English in his dialogues, as though the people he's talking to can understand all three languages like he does. Lead actress Jing Tian as Fang Jing (a cop from China) provides a pretty face and impresses with her agility and flexibility, but her acting performance is amateurish; she also looks unconvincing in action sequences. Ronald Cheng hardly need to act as his small role only required him to be his usual self.

On the MMA in Special ID: Both Chan Zhi Long (Yen) and Fang Jing (Jing) are portrayed as skilled BJJ practitioners but the martial art is never discussed at all in the movie, expecting all viewers to appreciate it as much as the people who're familiar with it. For those who does know the discipline before may find it quite interesting to see how most of the textbook BJJ techniques could be applied in a street fight (side control to full mount, triangle, kimura, americana, leg locks, etc). Those who only learn BJJ may even consider of mixing it up with some striking 'cause immediately in the first fight scene of the film, between Donnie Yen and Ken Lo, we get to see just how difficult it could be for a BJJ practitioner to defeat someone who specialises in Muay Thai, and vice versa. Unfortunately, they're just not enough of these scenes here. The finale battle between Donnie Yen and Andy On isn't as impressive as the finale of Flash Point as well.

Special ID still - Donnie Yen triangle armbar on Andy On - MMA meme

Worst parts of Special ID:
Chan Zhi Long (Yen) gets arrested along with the Sunny (On) in China but Chan Zi Long is not deported back to Hong Kong and not only it doesn't seem to make Sunny suspect that he's really an undercover cop, he also allows him into his blackmailing business. Then there's a childish, overly cliched scene where Chan Zhi Long and Fang Jing (Jing) talk about why they wanted to be cops. Oh lemme guess, 'cause you're not very educated and you can't speak in English? No? Oh yea, to catch bad guys, duhhh.

Malaysian censorship: Nothing was noticeably censored to me. Even the vulgarities were intact. Maybe it's 'cause our local board of film censorship don't have anyone who understands Chinese, which is good for us.

Rating: 2 / 5


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6 comments:
  1. Wah then I better not go cinema watch..

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    Replies
    1. The reviews for Donnie's Special ID are unbalanced and unfair. Go see it for yourself. It's funny how no one wants to give Donnie and his team and the other performers credit where credit is due. What that says to me, that critics don't know what they are talking about and are a poor judge of action films and Donnie's works. Or ultimately just hating on him.

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    2. The reviews for Donnie's Special ID are unbalanced and unfair. Go see it for yourself. It's funny how no one wants to give Donnie and his team and the other performers credit where credit is due. What that says to me, that critics don't know what they are talking about and are a poor judge of action films and Donnie's works. Or ultimately just hating on him.

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    3. @Anita Read the review before you comment. Nobody's hating on him. I believe Donnie Yen is the only reason why most critics bothered to watch this film in the first place despite the poor reputation of the China production company and the crappy director that made the film. It's the movie in overall itself that we're utterly disappointed with.

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  2. @Tony Teh, Umm I did read the review. I didn't agree. Because with all the negative focus on the disappointment with the film, it is also a direct reflection on Donnie. You can't separate the two. So yes, it appears Donnie is being hated on.

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    Replies
    1. @Anita So you're basically either saying no one can dislike the film without hating on Donnie Yen, or no Donnie Yen fan should ever be unbiased towards the films he's involved in? Guess I'm a Donnie Yen fan who's hating on Donnie Yen then? If you really read the review, you obviously didn't understand it as the verdict puts all the blame on the director and the production.

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