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The Heroic Bloodshed genre is still alive and kicking
Extraordinary Mission centers on an Undercover cop who attempts to bring down a major crime syndicate operating within the Golden Triangle(basically a narcotics ring between China and Thailand), as he is tested again and again due to the gang's suspicions of him being a cop, he becomes a drug addict himself and has to battle the addiction while also staying true to the badge. To say this is all the film is about would be criminal, no pun intended, as the narrative is filled with a lot of great arcs for nearly all of its characters that are interestingly and logically connected to one another, you feel like there's a reason why characters are the way they are, and the script by Felix Chong allows for some witty dialogue, and clever twists and turns that make sense and never come off forced. The story has a lot in common with Infernal Affairs, having basically the same plot but a grander scale as that masterpiece, but so are most Chinese/Hong Kong action crime dramas. There's plenty of effective drama here too, the lead actor Huan Xuang who plays Lin Kai, does a superb job portraying a police officer, slowly losing his grip on his sanity, as he navigates a dark and treacherous path of drug trafficking, but you can see him also trying desperately to hold on to his better side and remember the side he's on, it's this mixture of internal and external conflict that is not nearly as explored in films of this premise that adds a greater layer to an otherwise redundant plot that is also skillfully executed here. The supporting cast lends the film a lot of background and credibility too, from Kai's captain who first assigned the mission to this poor fella, to Eagle, the leader of the crime syndicate. The bonds formed between the characters are engaging and quite full of depth, as you discover that the Captain and Kai are more alike than their professions suggest and that there's an even greater connection between the three of them and another late-introduced character that really gives the plot and the relationships a great boost of both emotional and narrative resonance, rest assured, the Chong delivers a fascinating little examination of the classic Heroic Bloodshed plot line.
Now the other trait of the Heroic Bloodshed genre, is the extremely ballistic gunfights, meticulously choreographed fight sequences, car chases and beautiful cinematography, that as so popularized by HK legends: John Woo, Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark back in the day. Here Director Alan Mak and his favorite Director of Photography Anthony Pun, deliver a blistering action picture, with numerous set-pieces involving all of the above-mentioned goodies. From daring escapes featuring cool tricks with hiding under police cars, to some really unique ways pistols are gripped, twisted and shot, to the more obvious gunfights where concrete, vegetable carts, cars and literally everything in the environment is destroyed as easily and gorgeously as a child scoring his first Pinata strike. There's this really muscular and coherent way that the film's editor combined the long-takes and shots by Anthony Pun, that is a cross between sleek, wide and kinetic takes of the classic HK action era, to the more tightly-knit combinations of angles and frames, that gives the film a sense of urgency and speed rarely seen nowadays in Militaristic action films. Extraordinary Mission also has one of THE BEST motorcycle chase sequences and possibly one of the coolest "Hanging on top of a moving car" scenes in film, I also really enjoyed the theme rock song that perfectly describes through its lyrics what Kai is going through and here his mind and heart lie, the soundtrack by Kwong Wing Chan and Taq Sakakibara is energetic and fitting, especially during the last 20 minutes where all hell breaks loose. Fortunately though all that hell breaks loose for a reason, a good reason at that too, as the filmmakers ensure that the only way the characters are resolving their grudges held against one-another for over 10 years, is a massive Michael Bay-esque ever-escalating shootout that delivers what fans of the genre expect.
Extraordinary Mission is a return to form for Alan Mak and Felix Chong after a somewhat lackluster Overheard Trilogy and The Silent War, delivering a fast-paced, intriguing and character-rich action thriller that acts both as a tribute to the police's efforts to combat drugs and criminals, and just as an overall entertaining blockbuster with exemplary finale.
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