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AKA: Fireline
The crew of Lifeline
Chinese: 十萬火急
Year: 1997
Director: Johnnie To Kei-Fung
Producer: Mona Fong Yat-Wah
Writer: Yau Nai-Hoi
Action: Yuen Bun
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Carman Lee Yeuk-Tung, Ruby Wong Cheuk-Ling, Damian Lau Chung-Yun, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, Kenneth Chan Kai-Tai, Tang Chi-Fung, Yuen Bun, Lam Suet
The Skinny: Johnnie To's generously human answer to Ron Howard's Backdraft.
by Kozo:

Hong Kong’s answer to Backdraft is a good, solid flick that seems to contain most of Johnnie To’s favorite actors and themes. Thankfully, he neglects to add montages. Lau Ching-Wan is the risk-taking boss fireman of the “ill-fated jinxes,” a notoriously unlucky squad of lifesavers. They’re known for futility and things just going wrong, i.e. failing to save lives or saving the wrong ones (like pets, for example). However, through teamwork and perseverance, they gain each other's trust and the respect of others. 

There’s no real plot here, just a lot of incidents as the characters find themselves among all the goings on at the firehouse. The first hour of the film is a lot of back of forth, as the characters move forward, fall back, experience doubt, pain, elation, and all sorts of other recognizably human emotions. Finally, in a harrowing forty-five minute rescue sequence, they tackle one of the most amazingly staged fire sequences put on film. Despite a massively smaller budget than Ron Howard's Backdraft, To outdoes its Hollywood counterpart with realism and sheer bravura storytelling. 

It helps that his leading man is Lau Ching-Wan, who strikes the perfect pitch for To's ode to common heroism. Alex Fong is equally well-cast, though his personal subplot (a reunion with his long-lost daughter) is probably the film's most trying. Carman Lee is attractive but sadly underused as Lau’s doctor love interest. This is a very character oriented firefighter flick that doesn’t succumb to the serial killer theatrics of its U.S. counterpart. The only thing the firefighters are fighting for is their own reputation and simply to stay alive. A very worthy picture that's laudable for its humanity. (Kozo 1997)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Intercontinental Video, Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Various extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen