Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Sound in a movie certainly makes a difference.  I have this 1000 watt 5.1 stereo surround thing setup to and certain movies, such Dragon Dynasty’s ‘Dragon Heat’ just sets it OFF!  I mean ‘Dragon Heat’ is so obnoxiously loud and explosive that I’m surprised that my neighbors didn’t call the police.  Of course this doesn’t mean that ‘Dragon Heat’ was any good as a movie, as this is a purely subjective endeavor, especially with this film, but the sound sure was good.

Our film opens in an extremely stylized fashion as our main players are introduced using split screens, flashbacks, black and white, fast motion, blurry motion… you name a post production trick, Director Danny Lee used it in this movie.  A lethal criminal is being moved to the courtroom for sentencing and the Hong Kong police have heavy escorts for this guy because he is the brother of Big Boss Tiger Duen (Ken Tong) and they know he will stop at nothing to set him free.  Accompanying our convoy are five young hotshot recent graduates of some academy or another working with Interpol and HK police commander Sun (Simon Yam).  Why these five are along for the ride in the first place I was never quite able to figure out, and I’m sure they told us somewhere in the narrative but I was probably listening to the awesome way the cars sounded driving down the street.  Anyway, as feared, a crack team of commandos lead by Captain Ko (Jung ho-Heo) and his right hand man Angelos Petros (Michael Biehn) brutally mow down virtually every cop on the scene in an effort to get this dude.  Each one of the bad guys is also introduced in the same stylized split screen, quick cuts as well.  The only ones who stood a chance were our group of five heroes but even they couldn’t stop these brutal hoods for hire from making off with the criminal.

Turns out these criminals don’t work for Tiger Duen, they just wanted his brother around to torture, as to punish Tiger for the perceived crimes he committed against this particular crew of international mercenaries.  Also our five heroes have fallen out of favor with the local authorities and are now being babysat by soon-to-be retired Officer Kong (Sammo Hung) who we will find out has a tragic history with the evil Captain Ko.  A whole bunch of explosive stuff happens which includes the death of what seems to be every single cop in Hong Kong as our plot weaves back and forth between the massive expenditure of bullets, back story for practically every single character in the film, explosions, car chases and tragedy which all culminates into the ultimate showdown between good guys and bad guys – all in explosive fashion.  And they manage to pull all of this off in about ninety minutes.  Whew.

I can see where someone might not like ‘Dragon Heat’ as it is incredibly busy, convoluted, overly melodramatic, overly violent, overly loud and has extreme gaps in logic and plot cohesion… but… It at least shouldn’t bore you.  What you get with ‘Dragon Heat’ is five attractive pop star-esque leads in Vaness Wu, Shawn Yu, Yu Xia, Shengyi Huang and Lawrence Chou who shoot, run, slide, shoot, preen, profile, and shoot some more, all to a driving techno beat and tons of blood squibs.  We also have a Maggie Q sighting who’s working on the side of evil as probably the worst sharp shooting sniper of all time – but also the cutest.   With all of this action and all of these characters and all of this melodrama something has to give lest we have a three hour action flick –ala ‘Bad Boys II’ which I don’t think anyone wants.  So we sacrificed some logic and reasoning to keep things moving.  Sure some of our heroes may use an 80 round 9mm clip, but that’s okay.  Sure a pair of our heroes may stare at each other longingly in the middle of fire fight while the worst sniper in the world is on the roof waiting for someone to stand still so she can finally get a decent shot off, but that’s okay.  Sure our heroes use real guns at a kiddie arcade shooting gallery – for reasons I have yet figured out, but that’s cool too.  And yeah, it may be overkill using a triple wipe cut, black and white blurry split screen dissolve to transition from one character shooting at another, but More is Less I always say.

One thing I did really like about ‘Dragon Heat’ was that Director Lee took the time to humanize his villains, giving them legitimate motivation for killing every single cop in Hong Kong and making them very honorable, loyal and true to each other and dedicated to the cause of killing as many worthless, poorly trained Hong Kong cops as humanly possible.  I liked that.

No doubt ‘Dragon Heat’ is cinematic overkill to the maximum, and it probably would have been a better film if Director Lee had scaled back things just a little bit, but nonetheless it is still solid entertainment.  Put the volume on 11 and enjoy the show.

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