REVIEW: As the Light Goes Out (2014)

asthelightgoesout

Hong-kong-icon

2014, Emperor Motion Pictures/Media Asia/Zhujiang Film Group

Director:
Derek Kwok
Producers:
Catherine Hun
Julia Chu
Albert Lee
David Chan
Zhao Jun
Writers:
Derek Kwok
Jill Leung
Yung Tsz-Kwong
Cinematography:
Jason Kwan
Editing:
Wong Hoi

Cast:
Nicholas Tse (Sam)
Shawn Yue (Chill)
Hu Jun (Ocean)
Andy On (Yip)
Simon Yam (Major Pui)
William Chan (Wen-Jian)
Deep Ng (Fireman)
Patrick Tam (Mr. Man)
Bai Bing (Yang Lin)
Kenny Kwan (Plant worker)
Liu Kai-Chi (Chief Tam)

There are some great films revolving around the world of firefighting, such as Ron Howard’s Backdraft and Johnnie To’s Lifeline. You can add Derek Kwok’s latest film to that list, thanks to great performances from the cast.

One year ago, an investigation was held involving three firefighters. Sam disobeyed orders and went to save a life at an explosion in a food warehouse. While his friend Chill joined him, Yip wasn’t so sure. Chill ultimately took the rap and was demoted. Meanwhile, Yip has risen through the ranks and has become the Administrative Officer at the Lung Kun Tzu Fire Station. On Christmas Eve, Sam is about to get his transfer to a new station when chaos ensues.

It all starts with a warehouse fire on Menford Street. While Sam and the crew, now including the soon-to-be retired Major Pui and Mainland newcomer Ocean, eventually put out the fire much to the chagrin of Yip, Sam fears something worse is about to happen. The sewage tank at the warehouse is located near a gas pipe at a local power plant. When the sewage tank sets afire, the gas pipe bursts, causing a massive explosion at the power plant. Now, the team must overcome all odds, including each other, to ensure the safety of everyone trapped in the blazing power plant.

From one of the directors of the martial arts film Gallants comes this exciting thrill-a-minute firefighting film that is more than a straightforward film about an inferno. The screenplay by helmer Derek Kwok, Jill Leung, and Yung Tsz-Kwong revolves around the team members having to work together despite having to deal with serious drama involving each other.

The film’s central drama, involving the characters played by Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, and Andy On, sets up the more dramatic portion of the film. All three face consequences that ultimately change their ways throughout the course of the film. Sam goes from being reckless to proving himself as a leader when needed. Chill takes the rap for his friend’s actions and his life on a personal level spirals a bit down but goes from doing what he feels not only as a firefighter but as a father. As for Yip, he goes from concerned and by-the-book to a more cocky and arrogant leader when he is given power.

Simon Yam gives out a wonderful performance as the veteran Major Pui. He finds himself at first at odds as well. When Ocean, a Mainland-born veteran joins the team, Pui feels threatened. However, when it comes time for them to come together, they set aside their differences and find themselves on the job and helping each other out. Patrick Tam plays Mr. Man, the manager of the power plant whose arrogance leads him to make the worst decision possible and that decision sets the catalyst for the film’s disaster event.

The fire effects are nicely done in the film. A combination of real effects and visual effects (by Tse’s Post Production Office) showcase the blazing inferno and most of the movie is spent during the rescue efforts and action outside as backup is attempting to be called as Hong Kong is in virtual darkness. Jack Wong deserves major kudos for his work as the film’s stunt coordinator, showcasing how much the actors will go to make what can be described as one heck of a film.

As the Light Goes Out is a wonderfully made firefighter film that is more than just a blazing inferno. It is about trust, loyalty, and respect complete with solid performances from the cast. If you like Backdraft, then you will definitely like this film.

WFG RATING: A

DVD/BLU-RAY

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