The last film by the late Hong Kong director Benny Chan, Raging Fire, will open in the UK and Ireland from November 12 by Trinity CineAsia.
Raging Fire (2021) was selected as an Opening Film at the London East Asian Film Festival (November 21 – 31), as a tribute to the late Hong Kong film director Benny Chan, who is known for his repertoire in action cinema. The festival also included the director’s first film, A Moment of Romance (1990) (produced by John Woo) as a complete salute to the film master.
For those who haven’t seen Raging Fire, this will be a real treat for Hong Kong action film fans in the UK & Ireland.
As we know, the region never lacks of temptation toward Hong Kong action films. Such an enthusiasm exploded arguably since the 1970s, when Bruce Lee cross-culturally conquered the global screen with his body and soul. From the 1970s to 2000s, led by action megas such as Jacky Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen, Hong Kong action actors and all professional teams behind the scene, continue to bring new surprises to the international audience. Even Hollywood had to borrow the action film tradition and legacy from Hong Kong in order to create a new commercial space for its movie empire.
Ever since early 2000s, many argue that Hong Kong cinema went down hill for its quality, despite attracting more neighbour investment from mainland China. The target audience changed and the script, oftentimes, had to adapt different demands for the purpose of localisation. Many Hong Kong films became co-productions with mainland and somehow, it lost its authenticity.
New hope, however, rose again after the recent release of Herman Yau’s Shock Wave 2 (2021) in China earlier this year. Many mainland audience commented that this is the ‘most Hong Kong’ film that they have seen for a long while. But wait, until you get to see Raging Fire.
In my view, Raging Fire has the best choreography for an action film in a contemporary setting (the Yip Man series for historical setting). Following a classic cop-gangster narrative, the film offers you an intense cinematic action experience like no other recent films. Fighting scene after fighting scene with the best choreography and editing you can expect, Raging Fire shows what Hong Kong still have to offer to the market. If you are one of those people who only watch slow films in East Asian cinema, then Raging Fire is definitely not for you. But we shouldn’t forget, cinematic fantasy is not only just about the artistic expression of self-indulgence, what the cinema is capable of, is also to indulge the audience with its magic of speed, illusion and action.
Action film has been an important signature for Hong Kong cinema, bullet ballet, car chasing scene and over the top explosion – these are all guaranteed by Benny Chan with extra efforts. Raging Fire, while surprisingly includes hardly any narrative influence from mainland China despite its investment composition, confidently demonstrates the top quality of Hong Kong cinema. Just like the characters in the film, what you feel via Raging Fire is that everyone is giving everything they have, to make a statement, or otherwise, participate in a journey of redemption. When any communicator is giving all they can and drive their energy to full (for revenge or for an artistic expression), that’s when a film shines and how an audience is moved. It will not be a surprise that audience at some point, shares the same breathing speed as our protagonist (Donnie Yen) and antagonist (Nicholas Tse) in Raging Fire.
With most of its main action scenes shot on location, Raging Fire reminds us how unique and beautiful Hong Kong is. To love it, we must learn not to destroy the city. Explosion perhaps works best as a cinematic spectacle, but we certainly don’t want to see that happening to our beloved city in everyday reality.
Refresh your memory, remember how you used to be fascinated or perhaps still are by Hong Kong action films. And please, go and watch Raging Fire at a cinema.