With Raging Fire currently tearing up theatrical screens and digital/VOD releases, not to mention receiving well-earned rave reviews, let’s take a look back at Benny Chan’s very similar action thriller from Universe Entertainment Ltd. back in 2007, Invisible Target. (The following review will be as light on spoilers as possible).
A dark, morally-questioning revenge driven tale centered around insane stunts, brutal fight scenes, solid performances and some genuine plot twists elevate what could’ve been standard HK action cinema fare. Benny expertly weaves all these elements together, keeping the film moving at a brisk, fast pace without ever dropping into exposition-heavy scenes which could slowed or padded the run time. The cops, led by Nicholas Tse’s Detective Chan, squares off against the criminals led by Wu Jing’s Tien Sent. Fists, kicks, bullets and angry stares ensue.
But when you go into a Benny Chan film you expect action, and boy does Invisible Target deliver on that front. The major action pieces are thrilling, practical bone breaking sights to be seen, even including a couple double cuts just to show “Hey Ma, look! We did it for real!” The standouts are the second act Coffee house brawl, and the absolute insanity that is the climactic third act police headquarters showdown. Far too many elements to go into detail but it really has to be seen for yourself. Some of Benny’s camera work isn’t something you see anymore with long sweeping cuts, in during the fight scenes its never too close to obscure the choreography. Everything is given room to breath, to allow the viewer to take it all in.
The overall cast holds their own during the more dramatic scenes, particularly Tse who brings his usual charming intensity to what could’ve been a one-note character. Shawn Yue from Infernal Affairs also brings a mature, almost mentor-like vibe. Wu Jing is easily channeling his hitman character from SPL and absolutely is relishing in being the bad guy but he never drops into cartoonish which could’ve been quite easy given the over the top nature of the action. The only weak spot on the acting front is Jaycee Chan, son of the legend himself Jackie Chan. Jaycee isn’t bad by any means, he just lacks the charm and natural talent his father has, which is disappointing. That being said, he does give it his all during the action scenes and obviously has his fathers obsession with doing his own stunts despite the obvious danger.
Fans of the late, great Benny Chan, Hong Kong Action Cinema, Nicholas Tse or even Wu Jing owe it to themselves to check out Invisible Target. Benny swung for the fences and pulled off what I like to call “God Tier” action cinema and a real gem of the HK Action genre. If you’ve seen Raging Fire, Wilson Yip’s S.P.L. (a.k.a. Killzone) or even Benny’s own New Police Story, then you should definitely put Invisible Target on your must watch list. The Dragon Dynasty Blu-ray won’t set you back too far, and iTunes also has it via digital on the regular for a decent price. The movie takes what action fans want most – thrilling set pieces, shootouts and martial arts – throws them into a blender and gives you something special. Outside of Raging Fire, they really don’t make them like this anymore.