As The Light Goes Out 救火英雄 (2014) – Hong Kong / China

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 10th January 2013

Directed by: Derek Kwok
Starring: Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Simon Yam, Hu Jun

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Derek Kwok is a director with plenty of potential. 2010’s “Gallants” was one of my favourite films of that year. Perhaps with just a few months apart from Danny Pang’s “Out of Inferno”, firefighting genre is not exactly something fresh or required. Still, “As Light Goes Out” manages to be tight, engaging and even tense, before dropping off the interest level in the final 20 minutes. The problem lies mainly in the lack of any knowledge or background information of its lead and main characters. This in turn have a devastating effect on the emotional side of things as the film goes on. This is not a bad film and justifiably above average, but it could easily have been more. For a director of Derek Kwok’s quality and throw in his biggest budget production to date, we as local audience expected more.

Nothing is really known about Nicholas Tse’s life and the things mentioned are never really explained in one way or another. Likewise for Shawn Yue, apart from having son and predictably needing to save him (spoilers alert), the audience hardly cares about him or his kid. In fact at times, we even forgotten the fact that his child is somewhere mixed within fire, building and explosions. Perhaps the best moments in the film comes from Simon Yam whose winkled years provide both character and emotional depth. As for Andy On, it is almost comical in his involvement in this film and his untimely and sudden departure is almost the same. Veteran Liu Kai Chi impresses in his extremely limited screen time as the commander in the midst of politics and humanity. Patrick Tam does well in a small role as the head of energy organization who needs to juggle ethics and moral values with that of money-minded Mainland bosses.

All in all, “As The Light Goes Out” works well for a good portion of the time. However the supposedly emotional finale lacks any sort of emotional punch as it feels dragged and the audience finds it difficult to engage or care for any of the characters. Shawn Yue is someone who has not improved after showing potential in “Jiang Hu” (2004), with more than a decade under his belt, his is still as stoic and cold as ever. Derek Kwok is certainly a director for the future, but there are too much underlying politics in this film. The question lies in why every Mainlander has to save the day and be the righteous hero while Hong Kong people are seen as money minded, evil or entirely self-interested. I know that none of these probably matters for people outside Hong Kong, but when a supposedly serious scene becomes an unintentional laughing stock, it certainly doesn’t help. Without being overly harsh, I actually enjoyed a good portion of this film, but we all know Derek Kwok can easily do better and Nicholas Tse have seen far better days. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 7/10

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