REVIEW: DVD Release: Invisible Target

Film: Invisible Target
Release date: 2nd August 2010
Certificate: 15
Running time: 128 mins
Director: Benny Chan
Starring: Nicholas Tse, Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue, Jacky Wu, Lisa Lu
Genre: Crime/Action
Studio: Cine Asia
Format: DVD & Blu-ray
Country: Hong Kong/China

Director Benny Chang’s fast paced crime thriller follows three Hong Kong cops relentlessly pursuing a ruthless gang of highly skilled crooks and murderers.

Police officers Chan Chun, Wai King Ho and Fong Yik Wei are three Hong Kong police officers who find themselves working together, embroiled in a cat and mouse chase in an attempt to capture a gang of four mercenaries who are wanted for a string of crimes.

The three cops also eventually find that they each have personal vendettas against the gang, which adds to the film’s close connection and interaction with the audience. Chan Chun’s fiancĂ©e was inadvertently killed in the armed robbery which opens the film; Fong Yik Wei and his patrol unit are ambushed and attacked by the group; while Wai King Ho finds his brother was secretly working undercover with the gang and has since disappeared.

As the trio search deeper into the facts surrounding the case, and uncover the group’s seemingly unending pursuit of vengeance against a secret informer, they not only unearth the true wrath of the gangsters, but also discover that one of the key players within the syndicate could well turn out to be one of their own colleagues…

Invisible Target literally opens with a bang. The explosion caused by the armed robbery which kills Chan Chun’s girlfriend at the beginning of the film also signals the beginning of two hours of fast paced, high-end choreography and slick fight scenes. Apparently Benny Chang demands of his actors that they do not use stunt doubles, and so throughout the film all the skilled brawls and horrendous heights from which the characters plunge themselves are undertaken by the actors themselves. There never seems to be a dull moment during the film, and after around half an hour, we find ourselves expecting a death defying stunt or a supremely organised ambush to appear from nowhere.

As well as this, the film tends to linger on a sub text which explores the nature of social Darwinism and the blurred lines between good and evil. This is not to suggest that the film is in any way high brow or worthy of being the subject of anyone’s thesis, but there is enough philosophising and thought provoking dialogue to keep interested anyone used to the Western interpretation of the crime/thriller genre. Should one be prepared to kill in order to survive? Do police officers have any more right to kill than criminals? The questions asked by the film are by no means original, but the fact that it does ask questions (along with the absence of any emphasis or reliance on scantily clad women or the latest car we are all suppose to rush out and buy) means it does have a lot more to offer than the standard offerings in this genre.

There is certainly more to be taken from the film than your usual patronising and misogynist Jason Statham or Vin Diesel flick, but, at times, the heavy censorship placed on Chinese films (especially those concerning the honour of police officers) can get a little tiring. The characters rarely make morally ill judged moves, and Wai King Ho can appear too straight and narrow to convincingly stand up to a gang as horrifically ruthless as the film’s villains. The other two cops, while still always ethically in the right, at least have a bit of edge to make their perseverance throughout the film believable.

However, the most thrilling and absorbing aspect of the film has to be the fight and chase scenes. It seems like they almost tire the audience out more than the characters, as they often just keep going and going with all the prowess of a Duracell bunny with a robotic heart. These scenes also make up the majority of the film’s aesthetic, as well as very cleverly being used as a means of characterisation and plot development. Indeed, the manner in which the three cops fight and pursue their victims is often as revealing as it is thrilling. There is also a nice directorial touch which appears every now and then, whereby specific and interesting movements are repeated from various angles.

More entertaining and absorbing than you might expect, it’s not often that action films which are over two hours long can hold the audience’s attention for the duration, but in this case the film rarely retreats from the explosive opening scene. Perhaps it dwells for too long on the inherent good nature of the police officers, and there are no strong female characters worth noting. However, if it’s violence, explosions and a possibly interpretive subtext you’re after, this is a film you are more than likely going to enjoy.

Guns, martial arts, explosions, stunts and a pinch of philosophy: Invisible Target is a film almost as thought provoking as it is entertaining. IT

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