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Review Raging Fire a.k.a. Nou fo (2021): Some decent action but ultimately a disappointing affair!

genre: action, crime, bullet ballet

Raging Fire was one of the few films I was looking forward to this year. I was convinced that Benny Chan and Donnie Yen together would be able to create action gold. And as much as I wanted to Raging Fire simply fails to do this.

There are like three action sequences that stand out and certainly are worth it. Especially the Heat like shootout in the finale. And that is a bit ironic since I was under the impression that it was Michael Mann's idea of recreating a Hong Kong like action sequence. But while certainly the most memorable of the whole film I don't think any of the action scenes contained that huge wow factor. Usually Donnie Yen has the ability to transcend films with his vision on combat and choreography. And Benny Chan had proven with Big Bullet and The White Storm that he was able to reinvigorate the heroic bloodshed genre. Somehow Benny Chan thought it was wise to give more importance to the story which is as predictable as they come. I kind of get what they were going for and I was very willing to jump on the bandwagon. But usually these films are about the action where the plot is in service of the action. And I believe there is somewhat of a mismatch between the action and the plot.

Because there are some real issues with the plot. First and foremost it's the lack of depth concerning the main characters. In essence we are supposed to root for both Ngo (Nicholas Tse) and Bong (Donnie Yen). Once brothers in arms now sworn enemies. I don't know if the death of director Benny Chan had some impact on the story and the way it's told but there is only one scene where you get to see some kind of comradery between Ngo and Bong. It's not enough for a later event to be truly meaningful. Especially if we barely see Bong struggle between the righteous path and the wrong one. Since it's essential for Yen's character and the plot they could and should have explored this more. Ngo also is pretty flat as a character. There is almost no good side to him. I think it would have made more sense for both characters to struggle with the paths they are on and then come together in a common goal. It would have made them more compelling. Then there is the predictability. The story is presented to you in a way like it has many twists and turns. However it's painfully obvious there are none. You will know exactly how events will play out. Last but not least is the pacing. The emphasis on a predictable plot with essentially boring characters is the wrong way to go especially if you are craving action goodness. Sure if the plot had been more compelling and thrilling then yes it would have been fine. Now the non action scenes just drag on. So much so that the action itself fails to impress when they do happen.

I really wonder if this is what Benny Chan had intended since apart from some decent action I found the viewing experience to be disappointing. Both Donnie Yen and Benny Chan have done better!

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