Special IDDonnie Yen is one of the world’s biggest Martial Arts stars at the moment.  With Ip Man and a string of popular movies packed with top notch action, how could you go past any of his films?

Special ID isn’t just another Donnie Yen film, but a Police themed film which Yen has a proven track record with – think In the Line of Duty 4, Flash Point or Killzone and you’ll get the picture.  So naturally I hit the play button, sat back and waited to see some more Donnie’s top action work.

It was good, but nothing compared to those older films.

Granted, the movies mentioned above are his very best (along with a couple of others), but it’s hard not to set the bar nice and high for Donnie, he unfortunately just doesn’t meet that standard in this film – yet it’s still a cool and entertaining film!

Whats it actually about? Well, Donnie plays Chan Chi-Lung, an undercover cop working some local gangs.  He meets up with a young and successful criminal leader whom considers Chan Li Lung a Mentor, his name is Sunny – played by Andy On.  The two re-cap on old times but Sunny’s trust is shaken and he suspects Chi-Lung of being a traitor or cop.

Before long his cover is blown and and the bad guys are out to hurt the one Chi-Lung loves most – his mom!

It sounds pretty straight forward but they have done a good job with the story telling in this movie. Chi-Lung has been undercover for 8 years and acts somewhat like a hooligan – even when around his fellow officers.  He meets a young woman on the force who is very well educated and proper, and the contrast between the two (Chi-Lung being uneducated and ‘hooligan-ish’) is played on and makes for an interesting duo.

Donnie Yen all fired up

There’s nothing really deep and meaningful, it’s just a well told undercover cop story that would seem to be the perfect framework for some action – the action is just not as impressive as we’re used to from Donnie Yen.

Why isn’t the action as good?

In my opinion it seems that may have been going for a different style of fighting action in this movie.  His usual MMA stylings are there (once again, think Flash Point or Killzone) but the power and excitement seems drained.

It seems that the movie was to be focused more on the sloppier realism behind fighting.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of high flying kicks and fancy work – it’s just played down.

As a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I noticed a higher use of grappling and clinch work in this film than the other MMA stylings of Donnie.  Punches and kicks are thrown before both fighters, in most situations, end up tied up with each other chasing a position.

Instead of Donnie Yen kicking everyone’s ass, he struggles a little more with his opponents and is more evenly matched, hitting the ground often and scrambling for a position before losing it or finishing off his opponent.  But that’s another aspect – the reality presented within the grappling.

Grittier Action & Ground Work

In the UFC you’ll see guys hit the deck and wrestle around, in this film the very real danger of the environment is used quite well.  Chi-Lung goes for ground based attacks (from his guard) but is picked up, slammed and smashed into cars, walls or anything around him.  It’s a more accurate display of how things could go when relying on these techniques.

The action is spread nicely throughout the film but just doesn’t have the same excitement – but it all depends on your perception. Without the high expectation this proves to be a pretty well done action film with some nice fights – just not as ‘Donnie Yen’ as expected.

My Verdict? Check it out because it is a good film and has some nice fights (especially the finale if you’re a fan of MMA or BJJ).  Don’t expect A grade Donnie Yen but do expect a decent film that will entertain.

On Blu Ray –

Region A (US & Canada)
Special Id [Blu-ray]

Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
Not Yet!

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
Special ID

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Not Yet!

Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Not Yet!

More info on Movie Regions here.

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