It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the folks over at UK-based independent film company, Noble Brothers Productions. The award-winning feature film and shortfilm production banner previously made some noise earlier this year with the late 2013 short, Profile In Darkness, as the company spent its time on other creative materials and genres.
Yen takes on the role of Zilong Chen, an undercover police officer deep within the ranks of one of China’s most ruthless underworld gangs. The leader of the gang, Xiong (Collin Chou – JET LI’S FEARLESS, THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, THE MATRIX RELOADED), has made it his priority to weed out the government infiltrators in his midst. Struggling to keep his family together and his identity concealed, Chen is torn between two worlds.
Upping the stakes, as Chen’s undercover comrades are being dealt with, one by one, Chen fears his days are numbered. Now, he must risk everything to take down the organization and reclaim the life he lost when he took on this perilous assignment. As the action mounts, Chen must do everything he can to protect the SPECIAL IDENTITY he wishes he never had before it’s too late.
Special ID is one of the most anticipated Hong Kong action films for a long time. There was a long delay for its release and today I had the opportunity to watch the film in the cinema. I live in Xi’an, China and I watched it at the 10:20am showing; there were only 6 other people in the cinema. The version I saw was in Mandarin (the original film was shot in Cantonese), but it did have English subtitles, so I was able to follow the film without any problems.
The film has been labeled, “the next Flash Point“. This excited me greatly because the final fight scene in Flash Point is my favourite fight scene ever filmed (and I have a collection of about 1,000 Hong Kong films). I wanted more…and we’ve waited 6 years.
I will say that Special ID has more fight scenes than Flash Point and I will admit that I enjoyed Special ID more as a film than Flash Point. However, I am hugely disappointed with the film. Why? The fight scenes were average. They pale in comparison to the fights in ‘Flash Point’ and even SPL. There are about 3 big fights in the film, with several very short fights throughout the film too.
The first fight is a very strange duel between Donnie Yen and Ken Lo. Two truly amazing on screen fighters but the fight is quite bad in my opinion. Ken Lo appeared to be doing some Thai boxing and there was an absence of crisp hand exchanges. Also, there was limited leg work. Two great kickers producing very little kicking? Strange.
There is a good fight in the middle where Donnie fights a group of men. This is definitely the best fight in the entire film because Donnie gets to show off some impressive trademark moves of his; including some nice flashy kicks. Good use of slow motion during periods of this fight too. Some of his opponents are armed with various weapons, but this actually makes it quite interesting. No lengthy exchanges here, but some nice looking moves.
The final fight scene is between Donnie and Andy On. It lasts about 6 minutes and at least half of the entire fight is MMA grappling, something that I don’t like. If you love this, then you’ll love this fight. However, if you like Hong Kong style hand exchanges with some impressive kicking, then you’ll be greatly disappointed (like I was). Andy On is an average screen fighter and Donnie looks far superior here. Donnie throws some good kicks but where is the hand choreography? Very little on display.
Overall, I enjoyed the film because the characters were interesting and likeable. Donnie’s relationship with his mother and his female colleague was well-written and fun to watch. As a film, the story and character development/relationships are quite strong. However, most of us will be watching the film for some spectacular fight scenes, and it fails to deliver on that front. Collin Chou is totally wasted in this film, Ken Lo failed to impress here and I wish Vincent Zhao had played the villain instead of Andy On. It’s definitely worth watching, but I was a lot more satisfied after watching Flash Point, and Special ID would struggle to get into my top 10 Donnie films.
Written by FCSyndicate Asian Cinema contributor Graeme Noble (18/10/13). Noble is an acclaimed independent filmmaker and actor, and represents one-half of his award-winning independent film company, Noble Brothers Productions with brother John-William Noble. For more information on his work, visit http://www.noblebrotherproductons.org.
Observe The Transitional Psychosis Of A Kidnapper In The New Suspenful Martial Arts Horror Shortfilm, PROFILE IN DARKNESS
Traveling filmmaker and actor Graeme Noble is back on the web this week with a brand new martial arts action short, Profile In Darkness. The shortfilm is a first-time collaboration between Noble Brothers Productions and Golden Cash Productions, and features fellow Noble Brothers actor and performer Martin Sandison, and veteran independent actor and filmmaker Cristoffer Frank who hails all the way from Sweden.
Noble shared a little bit of his experience with me while working on this project, having filmed back in the middle of August for a three-day location shoot in the Scottish Highlands. “We booked a caravan for a few days and spent the majority of our trip filming.” he says. “There were definite challenges filming everything with just the three of us. I was behind the camera for most of the film but Martin did a great job with the camera for the bits I was in.” Noble also gave a little bit more insight with Film Combat Syndicate on his thoughts about working with Frank a decade after first meeting him online. “I’ve known him over the Stunt People Message Board for almost 10 years.” he says of Frank. “He has been making films since 2003 and it was great to finally meet him and for him to work with us on this project.”
Profile In Darkness is a particular collaborative milestone on the creative forefront for Noble‘s independent film group, Noble Brothers Productions this time around. From moment-to-moment, the shortfilm dabbles with elements of quiet arthouse drama with hints shock-value suspense leading up to the final action sequence.
Frank does a pretty good job exhibiting the psychological state of mind that frames exactly the kind of story that a title such as Profile In Darkness looks to tell, in accordance with his fight scenes with Noble and Sandison. That said, while experimental at its core, I grant that fans of action and horror would definitely look forward to this latest small treat from Scotland-based film group. The film is dark and gritty in tone, and pretty entertaining in its delivery of action and mise-en-scène elements of horror visceral performances from the actors will leave you quite impressed and maybe even wanting more.
Profile In Darkness is not too violent for all viewers. However, it is far more different from what you might be used to seeing, so viewer discretion is somewhat advised. At any rate, feel free to check it out in the embed below, and head over to the official Noble Brothers Productions film page for more info.
The multi-award winning independent filmmaking company Noble Brothers Productions, are back with a new trailer for the upcoming short film, The Book Of Life. Described as an experimental Christian drama, The Book Of Life co-stars, and was written, produced and directed by John-William Noble, and stars brother, actor and Noble Brothers performer Graeme Noble starring as a male drug addict whose life changes for the better in a chance meeting with a Christian woman.