Raging Fire is the final work of Benny Chan, who died of nasopharyngeal cancer before post-production of the film began. Before being known through titles starring Jackie Chan such as Who Am I? (1998), New Police Story (2004), to Rob-B-Hood (2006), Chan was familiar with the bloodshed heroic genre at the beginning of his career. A Moment of Romance (1990) and Man Wanted (1995) are examples. So it feels a bit poetic, when he closed his journey by re-exploring the genre (though never really leaving it).
Donnie Yen plays Cheung Sung-bong, a dedicated senior inspector who is never swayed by the temptation of money, even though that principle makes his career tend to stagnate, and is shunned by higher-ups. When a terrorist squad under the leadership of Yau Kong-ngo (Nicholas Tse) begins to target the lives of the police, it is revealed that Cheung’s principles have apparently left deep wounds for several people.
Written by Benny Chan, Ryan Ling, and Tong Yiu-ling, Raging Fire’s method of speaking was problematic. The urgency of using non-linear plots is questionable. First, unnecessary complexity is born (it is quite difficult to identify names and faces that appear because of time-jumping). Second, the reason why the flashback contains the background of the character is placed in the middle, which forces the plot to move back and forth, solely to create a twist, rather than the emotional impact, which the film can have if it applies conventional narrative patterns.
Even so, the script also has advantages, regarding the way he plays with the bloodshed heroic formula. Usually, the genre’s protagonists are clean cops (similar to Cheung), and/or noble-hearted criminals, who betray the boss for good. Yau’s character is like the opposite of the second type of characterization. It is not black figures who have shifted to white because they refuse to follow the rottenness of the black side, but white figures who have fallen into black due to the corruption of the white side (the apparatus). Best Movie
The climax presents an interesting view of the characterization above. One by one Yau’s men died. But rather than a villain who is on the verge of defeat, he is described as an antihero who is cornered, while preparing to defy death. It was at this point that Yau and Cheung seemed equal, as two men with their own principles.
As a result, the confrontation as the closing of the film becomes more convincing. Of course, the capacity of the two main actors to handle the moment of the game also plays a big role. Also taking on the role of action director, Donnie Yen as usual, showed off a series of moves that required extraordinary physical capacity, while Tse, with the aura of “gloomy machismo” ala 90s Hong Kong action actor, was good at swinging a knife. Accompanied by blaring music by Nicolas Errera, a high-tension mano-a-mano battle was created.
Even though the story is stuck, Raging Fire’s action is extraordinary, full of complex and dangerous stunts that require high precision (including because it often involves so many extras) typical of its genre. In addition to the climax, the chase between Cheung behind the wheel of a car and Yau on a motorbike, became one of the peaks of madness. In his last work, Benny Chan pours all creativity, breaking through boundaries, while inserting some imageries (fire explosions behind cool walking characters wearing sunglasses and suits, gun pointing at close range, etc.) that act as tributes. for classic Hong Kong cinema, especially the works of John Woo. Movie Review