Saturday, 9 October 2010



How many times can you watch a bloke being kicked in the head before it starts to drag? In the midst of a Hong Kong martial arts cop thriller the answer's probably about four hundred. That's not counting the number of times people are thrown through windows, kicked in the goolies, slapped, punched, thrown through walls, dropped off balconies and tossed through the air in huge explosions. And despite the welter of bone-shattering violence, it's only a 15. Hurrah for that.

Deep down, Invisible Target offers precisely the same mixture of cops and criminals we've seen many times before from the Far East, from Jackie Chan to John Woo. Six months after the spectacular robbery of the contents of an armoured security van, the gang appear to have resurfaced looking for their loot that's been kept safe while they lie low. Against them are the cops: one whose fiancee was killed in the opening blast, one who's a bit crazy and keeps getting into fights, and a by-the-book constable whose missing brother might somehow be involved with the gang.

The basic template of these movies is: action, bit of plot, fight, bit of plot, shootout, bit of plot, exploding cars, bit of plot, chase, bit of plot, then massive climactic fight sequence involving chases, fighting, shootouts AND explosions. Invisible Target goes on for more than two hours and maybe thirty minutes at most consists of actual plot material, story development or character motivation. The rest basically consists of photogenic people lamping one another and destroying the scenery, and frankly when it's as well done as it is here I'm not about to complain that the movie lacks great depth. Director Benny Chan is a veteran of the HK action picture - he's worked with Donnie Yen, Andy Lau, Chow Yun Fat and (at least three times) the mighty Jackie Chan - and he loves to blow things up and have blokes thrown through plate glass windows.

No-one goes to these movies for the performances (which are all fine, by the way - incidentally, the lowly patrolman is played by Jackie Chan's son Jaycee): it's the impeccably choreographed fight sequences and action setpieces that matter and they're terrific, and if the IMDb is to believed they were all done without the use of stunt doubles. This really is the best action movie I've seen in a very long time and literally beats seven bells out of any recent Hollywood offering in the genre. Loved it.


No comments: