This movie reminds me a bit of Hard Boiled in that the final showdown takes place in a police station. There's really not much of a similarity there, but it's a big area; the layout of the building is similar. No... that's not it. Maybe it's that the thugs are dressed up as police officers, just like they are in hard Boiled? I'm not sure what it is, but there are definitely similarities. Hard Boiled wasn't much of a martial arts movie though, it had much more firearms and regular warfare. In this, it's the other way around.
Apart from kickass hand to hand action, there's also plenty of shooting, but the weapons always come second to close combat. The real fights are fast-paced, creative, raw, martial arts. There are plenty of stunts. Sure there are wires and mats (as you see if you watch the credits after the movie) but there's probably plenty of getting hurt as well.
In a way, the movie reminds me of the character trio in... some other John Woo movie I watched. Can't recall the title, but is it just my imagination or is this really inspired by those old classics? Whatever it is, it works great, this movie is just amazing. The explosions are something else (though they're clearly not real explosions, but rather a combination of fireworks and timed detonations, probably often combined with pressurized gas canisters rather than any material bombs), they are coordinated beautifully. All the action is stylish, from people getting punched through windows, to falling through windows, to falling into a sea of flames, to... well just watch the movies.
It's HK action at its prime, in modern time, with a plot of crime and grime and bad guys who are both good and bad, and relatable too like they're not living the lives that they should have had. Also, one of my new favorites within martial arts (who seems to get all the bad roles, unfortunately) is in it: Jacky Wu. I'm always surprised when I look up his list of movies at IMDB and realize how different he looks in real life and in the movies. In real life he looks so... happy! Energetic! Like a good person! Maybe the movies are his outlet of anger? Whatever it is, you gotta watch this (if you like action that is), great stuff.
rated 4/5: fo shizzle