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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Fire of Conscience, Spark of Interest

 Firebeard

Leon Lai calls to check on Norelco products at his local Walgreens in Fire of Conscience

Judged solely on the basis of its action sequences, Fire of Conscience is, to my mind, an overwhelming success. From the restaurant shootout to the human bomb showdown to the flaming garage of doom finale, this Dante Lam-directed film contains the kind of tense, teeth-clenching action scenes that make you flinch, groan, and maybe even cheer with every act of violence shown onscreen. While the martial arts choreography of something like Ip Man 2 might be more athletically impressive, the thrills and spills of Fire of Conscience are far more involving.

It’s just too bad the rest of the movie isn’t quite as compelling.

Richie Ren does a fairly decent job as the nice guy cop who isn’t so nice, but I’m not sure what to make of Leon Lai’s performance. What’s with the beard? I know it’s supposed to illustrate how a good cop has fallen on hard times, but it looks ridiculous. I know that’s not a very “film critic-y” thing to say, but it does have relevance to the rest of the film. The “Making of” featurette on the DVD makes it sound like the beard restricted Lai’s facial movements. And perhaps that’s why he seems so wooden in the film. And if that’s the case, why bother with the facial hair at all?

Maybe Lai couldn’t grow adequate facial scuzz. Still, if it isn’t helping his acting, then it just seems distracting. I wouldn’t say Leon Lai is bad in the film, I just like my actors to be a little more expressive, that’s all.

As to the rest of the film, there are a handful of subplots sprinkled throughout the story, but your mileage will vary on which ones you find interesting. For the record, I liked Liu Kai-Chi’s myself.

And one last thing: I don’t know whether the director meant it as a comic bit of misdirection or if it was merely an unintentionally humorous moment, but I laughed out loud when Leon Lai glances at something, and we get a close-up of an electric razor. Obviously, it turns out not to be a reference to that scraggly beard, but I don’t know how any audience familiar with Leon Lai’s normal look wouldn’t make the same connection.

One Response to “Fire of Conscience, Spark of Interest”

  1. nk Says:

    I agree with you on the beard. Absolutely ridiculous. Especially the mustache; it looked like someone took a permanent marker and scribbled all over Leon’s face.
    Enough of that…The restaurant shootout is my favorite scene; it made the whole movie for me. I love how the character May played a big part of it. It’s rare to see a female supporting character doing anything of importance (without screaming, tearing, and shaking) in action scenes like that. Because of this, the trust between Leon’s character and her seemed more realistic.
    Anyway, thanks for keeping this site alive with your blog. I do miss lovehkfilm’s reviews.
    NK

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