Review: AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT 救火英雄 (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Review: AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT 救火英雄 (2014)

Blessed with a solid cast and top-notch special effects, AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT is gripping if cliched firefighter drama.

Last year, the Pang brothers attempted to resurrect the long-forgotten genre about firefighters with their big-budget 3D blockbuster, INFERNO (read my review here). The result wasn't as spectacular as I hoped for, even though that movie had its moments. This year, it was director Derek Kwok's turn for another big-budget firefighter drama entitled AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT. The good news is, AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT is far more accomplished effort than the underwhelming INFERNO.

AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT takes place on a single night during Christmas Eve when a team of Hong Kong's Lung Kwu Tan station-based firefighters -- team chief Sam (Nicholas Tse), Chill (Shawn Yue), Tao (Simon Yam), Ocean (Hu Jun) and among others -- are called upon to stop a fire at a winery in Menford Street. Everything seems to be under control at first until the fire starts spreading again from the winery to a nearby power plant at Pillar Point which gradually causes the entire Hong Kong island into total blackout.
From the award-winning martial arts drama GALLANTS (2010) to his recent Chinese New Year's big-budget fantasy blockbuster JOURNEY TO THE WEST: CONQUERING THE DEMONS (where he co-directed with Stephen Chow), director Derek Kwok has proved his worth as a versatile filmmaker who can switch different genre with equal success. Here, Kwok's direction is taut and engaging. Special effects are first-rate where fire and smoke look more lively and visually spectacular than the overly CG-looking effects in INFERNO.

As for the plot, though filled with cliches, manages to blend reasonably well with solid characters-driven drama and overall excellent acting ensemble. Speaking of acting, both Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue, who previously collaborated together in Wilson Yip's DRAGON TIGER GATE and Benny Chan's INVISIBLE TARGET, deliver powerhouse performances as usual. Supporting actors including Simon Yam and Hu Jun, and even smaller roles from Andy On to Liu Kai-Chi, are equally worthwhile.
The stunning "flour explosion" sequence at the end of the movie.
Some of the action sequences tend to be difficult to follow because of Jason Kwan's wobbly camerawork. The female cast, including Bai Bing and Michelle Wai, are sadly underutilised here.

While the movie isn't as refined as Johnnie To's seminal (and still the best) Hong Kong firefighter drama LIFELINE, AS THE LIGHT GOES OUT remains a highly entertaining blockbuster. It definitely does the Hong Kong cinema proud by ushering a positive beginning in the brand new year of 2014. On the side note, do watch out for a certain cameo appearance somewhere earlier in the movie.

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