Review: INFERNO 逃出生天 (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Review: INFERNO 逃出生天 (2013)

Despite the engaging premise and A-list cast, INFERNO is an uneven HK disaster-movie blockbuster suffers from a clumsy script, sloppy directions and spotty special effects.

Movies about firefighters isn't particularly a popular genre in Hong Kong cinema. The one and only I can think of is Johnnie To's LIFELINE (1997). This year, the long-forgotten genre makes a huge comeback in the form of Pang Brothers' INFERNO, a big-budget firefighters movie blessed with an A-list cast including Lau Ching-Wan (who also appeared in LIFELINE), Louis Koo and Lee Sinje and also the first-of-its-kind shot in stereoscopic 3D.


Lau Ching-Wan and Louis Koo stars as two rival siblings, Tai Kwan and Keung who doesn't see eye-to-eye with each other. After a botched training exercise, Keung can't stand his older brother's strict behavior anymore and quits the fire department. Four years later, he is now a successful businessman celebrating the launch of his new fire security company for the Guangzhou International Commercial Centre. Meanwhile, Tai Kwan is soon becoming a father with his pregnant wife, Si Lok (Lee Sinje). Coincidentally, Si Lok happens to visit her gynaecologist (Wang Xue-Qi) at the same building where Keung's office is located. All things seem to be normal until a huge fire breaks out in the basement that trapped everyone in the building.

Of late, all of the Pang Brothers' movies are exceptionally bad. So it's worth noting that INFERNO is considered as their most satisfying works yet since THE EYE (2002) and RE-CYCLE (2006). Most of the firefighting action sequences are competently choreographed by Hong Kong veteran Dion Lam while credits also go to the Pang brothers for staging some worthwhile suspenseful moments.

For Lau Ching-Wan and Louis Koo, both of them give adequate performances and kudos to them for giving their physical best during the shooting of the movie.

The vertigo-inducing scene where Tai Kwan guided the survivors across the tower crane.

The script is clumsily written while the characters are mostly shallow and incompetent. Despite some engaging direction from the Pang brothers, the same cannot be said the way they choose to shoot the movie in stereoscopic 3D. While I didn't get my chance to watch it in 3D, most of the special effects look fake (especially the smoke that billowing out of the building). There are other times that the Pang brothers can't seem to show some restraints during the long-winded melodramatic moments (the last scene is close to unbearable). And even at a seemingly compact 107 minutes, the movie feels unusually overlong.

It's a shame that INFERNO doesn't turn out to be a great HK big-budget movie blockbuster it wanted to be. Still, the movie does have a few entertainment values. Let's see whether the upcoming Derek Kwok's AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT (which starred Nicholas Tse and Simon Yam) can do better when it arrives in the cinema next January.

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