THE PLOT THUS FAR
A sinful martial arts expert wants to start a new tranquil life, only to be hunted by a determined detective and his former master.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Detective Xu Baijiu believes that the law is more important than humanity. His blind obedience to the law contrasts sharply with the corrupt officials accepting bribes, which is a political satire. Please note what happens to the villain at the end, which ridicules the unscrupulous legal system invented by humans. Second, the difference between humans and animals is highlighted. Please note that cows, horses, flies and worms are shown in the movie and respect for animals is emphasized. Moreover, in a fighting scene, Kara Hui’s character can be seen through a cow’s eye, which symbolically shows her ruthless character.
The first half of the movie is essentially a battle of wits between Liu and Xu, as the former attempts to conceal his true identity that the latter so doggedly pursues. But more than just a cat-and-mouse game, the script by Aubrey Lam exhibits surprising depth in setting up these two opposing characters- Liu is the man with a dangerous past who has eschewed his former life in favour of a simple and peaceful life; and Xu is the law enforcer whose own traumatic experience has led him to respect the law over humanity.
Aubrey’s story raises a number of moral dilemmas, in particular whether a man can truly start anew without having to atone for his past sins, and whether there is a place for humanity in a world governed by laws and regulations. This is at the very heart of the complex intertwining relationship between Liu and Xu, and a fascinating one which Peter Chan explores with panache. There is no hero or villain between the two per se- rather, both are simply pushed up against each other by their past and the circumstance by which they had made their mutual acquaintance.
The Blu-Ray comes with featurettes and a music video. Donnie Yen is all over the featurettes, so that’s a nice plus. However, I found the DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track to have limited back channel definition. The transfer works, I just expected a little more chop socky surround action. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: 04/16/2013