July 12, 2008

DVD Review: Invisible Target

Over the years I have grown quite an affinity for Asian cinema; in particular, films within the action and horror genres. Of course, those genres are the most readily available too me. Yes, I have watched a decent number, but this by no means gives me any special knowledge of them, but there are some distinct differences between American and Asian films. For one, the budgets are considerably lower (Invisible Target has been reported at $8 million), this is not a big concern, as money does not mean a good movie. The acting styles are different, I have noticed that acting tends to be more over the top and exaggerated, not in all cases, but in many cases and this is adds an interesting feel to the projects. Then, specifically related to action films, there is always a lot of energy, the actors always seem to be really into their roles in a way not always seen in American films. Finally, I have seen many films that have a broad blending of genres, usually action, drama, and comedy, and Invisible Target is no different.

At its core, Invisible Target is a big action film. From start to finish, you are never that far away from an action sequence, whether is be a fist fight, a shootout, or a chase, there is always another adrenalized jolt just around the corner. Seriously, within the first half hour you have two big fistfights and a foot chase. The plot is rather simple, although it is told in a rather convoluted way. Despite the fact that I lost my connection with the plot on a few occasions, I still felt satisfied at its conclusion. Overall, the movie feels a little like a combination of Infernal Affairs and one of Jackie Chan's Police Story films, although the comedy is much more subdued.

The plot concerns a group of criminals who call themselves the Ronin Gang and a robbery, which opens the film. These villains, led by Wu Jing as Tien Yeng Seng, are pursuing the stolen riches that were in turn stolen from them. However, their pursuit of wealth is secondary to the good guys that are looking to bring them down. On the side of good you have three men, Detective Chan Chun (Nicholas Tse), Officer Wai King Ho (Jaycee Chan, Jackie's son), and Inspector Carson Fong Sik Wei (Shawn Yue), with each man having a different reason for bringing down this gang.

Chan is driven to bring the gang down because they were responsible for the death of his fiancee, something he is unable to get over. Ho is a by the book street cop whose brother went undercover years before and has not been heard of since, Ho believes he may be involved with this gang. Finally, Carson is an arrogant officer who is embarrassed by Seng and must bring him down to regain his credibility. This trio forms an unlikely team as they move forward towards revealing the truth of the situation and the ultimate take down.

Now, Invisible Target is not a great film by any stretch, but it is one that milks its story for all its worth and doing so with a lively flair that keeps you watching even when you lose track of where the players are.

Benny Chan helmed the film, and continues to show that he can put together a strong action film. He previously directed Gen-X Cops, New Police Story, and Heroic Duo. While his directing is good, with decent pacing and nicely developed action, the screenplay, which he co-wrote with Chi-Man Ling and Melody Lui, leaves a little to be desired. There is rather poor dialogue throughout.

On a side note, just for fun, count how many panes of glass get broken. It is unbelievable the amount of glass that is shattered throughout.

Audio/Video. The technical side of the package is quite nice, although the colors seem a little flat. Still, there are no digital artifacts or other related issues that I was able to notice and the dialogue and effects always sounded good. Audio is presented in Cantonese (Dolby 5.1 and DTS, with English subtitles) and a decent sounding English dub in Dolby 5.1.

Extras. This two disk set includes plenty of bonus material on this two disk set. I have not viewed everything, but I have sampled everything. Believe me, there is a lot here to go through.
  • Commentary. This track is moderated by Dragon Dynasty regular Bey Logan and includes Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue, and Andy On. It is a decent track with a fair share of backslapping, but it is definitely worth a listen as Logan knows his stuff, and the others have their stories from the set.
  • Orchestrated Mayhem: The Making of Invisible Target. This featurette contains interviews with Benny Chan and all of the primary players, plus set footage. Topics include what the core of the story is and the development of the central heroes. (25 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Trailer Gallery. Both the original teaser and full trailers are included.
  • Gen-X-Genius: An Exclusive Interview with Director Benny Chan. (22.5 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Like Father, Like Son: An Exclusive Interview with Star Jaycee Chan. This interview talks about Chan and doing his own stunts and his set experiences and being the son of a legend. (19 minutes)
  • Licensed to Kill: An Exclusive Interview with Star Shawn Yue. (19.5 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Invincible Target: An Exclusive Interview with Leading Villain Wu Jing. (28 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Young and Dangerous: An Exclusive Interview with Co-Star Philip Ng. (26 minutes)
  • Carte Blance: An Exclusive Interview with Co-Star Vincent Sze. (15 minutes)
  • The Ronin: An Exclusive Interview with Co-Star Andy On. (20 minutes)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes. This section is presented with commentary by Benny Chan. There are a total of six scenes. Interesting to see, but ultimately would not have added much to the film (14 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Fight for the Glory: Constructing the Action Sequences for Invisible Target. This was interesting, a lot of planning and tests went into designing the sequences and this chronicles much of that. (19 minutes, Cantonese)
  • Storyboard Comparison. They do not use the angle function for this, but they show the storyboard alongside a small video window to compare the two. If you are interested in how to go from concept to screen, these are always neat to watch. (19 minutes, Cantonese)
  • The Gala Premiere. Footage from the premiere as the cast arrive under the flash of lights to the debut of their film. (10 minutes)

Bottomline. Good but not great film that should satisfy the action itch. It is not a terribly deep film, but it is one that makes you pay attention if you want to get the whole plot, but even if you just want the action, there is plenty of that to hold your attention.



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