This is a "tongue-in-cheek-take-no-hostages-spare-no-explosion" action-movie. From the opening sequence - Takam's team being slaughtered - many scenes has either "The Rock" or "Die Hard" written all over them. But that's okay. Director Bruce Law takes the best of Hollywood and combines it with his own brand of Hong Kong attitude. The mix is irresistible, and you can easily forget the preposterous plot turns, as long as you're this entertained! Speaking of preposterous plot turns: this is the only film I've ever seen where a person in identified by a computer via the shape of his ear!
The film is energetically shot, with plenty of handheld camera and steadycam. It moves along at breakneck speed, from one set piece to another. We get car chases, shootouts and fist fights, with good variation and many interesting ideas. It's even surprisingly violent in some places. In one scene a little kid, whose father has been killed attempts to stop the terrorists. As they make their getaway he steps out in front of their car and throws a hand grenade towards it.... only, he forgot to removed the split, and the grenade simply rolls away. One of the terrorists then leans out of the speeding car and shoots the kid. He screams and falls to the ground. Dead. And the terrorists are gone. You won't see that in a Hollywood movie!
The music is also fantastic. It clearly resembles the score from "The Rock" (and in some places "Crimson Tide" as well), but if you get a chance to listen to it separately it's actually far better.
As for the actors: Is it just me or are they too perfect!?
Shu Qi is introduced early in the film, but only really becomes a part of the plot when the terrorists seize the TV- station. As I recall my interest in her actually began with this film, and it's easy to see why: She's cute, not too screamish and hot as usual. She gets to play in the big action scenes, while still being rescued by her guy. My kinda girl.
Julian Cheung and Kenya Sawada work perfectly together. The film completely avoids the good cop/bad cop or funny cop/serious cop setup that Hollywood film like this always seems to fall for. The two cops are both committed, they just have different approaches to the investigation, and different agendas in terms of revenge. The two actors are equally committed, and even in their second scene together we sense the camaraderie that forms the base for the rest of the film.
I haven't been able to find out the name of the guy who plays bad guy Takizawa, but whoever he is, he's perfect. Camping it up all the way. I love the fact that you can always spot the bad guy in these kind of films, because he's Japanese and has a beard! He also speaks English most of the time, with a horrible thick accent, which just adds to his menacing appearance.
Theresa Lee also makes the most of her small part as Ken's trigger shy colleague. Her young age just makes it more believable that she should behave the way she does around guns.
The final punctuation mark is the end credit sequence: A montage of cool clips from the film, with a cheesy pop song on the soundtrack. A perfect ending to a perfect film... and I just can't get that song out of my head.