15th Mar2014

‘Badge of Fury’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jet Li, Zhang Wen, Shishi Liu, Michelle Chen, Yan Liu, Collin Chou, Stephen Fung, Raymond Lam, Ka-Yan Leung, Siu-Lung Leung, Yili Ma | Written by Tan Cheung | Directed by Tsz Ming Wong

Badge-of-Fury

Jet Li, star of countless classic martial arts movies, teams up with the producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle for Badge of Fury (aka Badges of Fury) a crime drama caper that is more caper than crime… Even though, at least on paper this would seem like a perfect Hong Kong action flick:

When a spate of murders erupt across Hong Kong, two kick-ass cops are assigned to the case. Chaos soon escalates when they reach a dead end and the detectives must play a deadly game to lure the killer out.

You see from that synopsis I was expecting something special, along the lines of New Police Story or (an undoubtedly sub-par) Infernal Affairs, with Jet Li playing the grizzled cop to co-star Wen Zhang’s rookie, racing against time across Hong Kong to track down a notorious and prolific serial killer. Instead we get a film of contradictions. Many contradictions.

On the one hand Badge of Fury features some superb martial arts, including many different fighting styles – yet on the other a lot of the fights are overly “enhanced” with CGI and/or wire work. Then there’s the story. On the one hand the film deals with a series of seemingly unconnected, almost unsolvable murders, on the other hand the film plays out like spoof of every serious crime drama Jet Li has ever previously starred in.

I understand that the film was supposed to parody of the action/crime genre, but there’s parody and then there’s taking things way beyond the point of parody to absurdity. Almost unwatchable absurdity at that. If only the films press conference sequence was the actual explanation of this film, now THAT I could have lived with!

It’s often said that comedy is hard to translate and no where is that more obvious than Badge of Fury. The jokes fall flat and the Three Stooges-like slapstick is, even if this a parody, completely at odds with the core of the story, making this one hell of a slog to sit through. Undoubtedly for hardcore Jet Li fans only and even they might be disappointed – well at least until Li gets his moment to shine come the films final fight.

Badge of Fury is released April 7th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

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