There's nothing like a good old fashion action movie to get the heart racing and there are usually none better than the ones that come out of the Hong Kong film scene. "Special ID" is a solid, full throttle action thriller that unquestionably makes for a fun experience but it doesn't quite reach the levels that others before it have hit.
"Dragon" Chen (Donnie Yen) is a ruthless enforcer deep inside China’s most ruthless crime syndicate, who just happens to be working two jobs since he is also an undercover cop. When rivalries on the street explode with the reappearance of an old enemy and a brutal murder. The mob begins to close ranks and the boss swears to find every traitor and make them pay with their lives. Agents are turning up dead. His days are numbered. Desperate to protect his family and his life, Chen must risk everything to protect the special identity he never wanted, before it’s too late. Left with no alternative, he has no choice but to rely on a new partner (Jing Tian) and his knowledge of the streets in order to get out alive, because it's the only chance he has left.
I'll be the first to admit that there have been better yarns to come out of the Hong Kong action scene, but "Special ID" does manage to rise above the median level thanks to some solid action sequences and a fast moving narrative that doesn't get bogged down in anything too unnecessary.
Director Clarence Fok Yiu-Leung is a veteran hand who has helmed such films as "The Iceman Cometh", "Naked Killer" and "Thunder Cop", we wade into the world of "Special ID" pretty quickly as the narrative and the action unfold at a crisp pace. Star Donnie Yen who also served as a producer and the action director on this picture does a solid job at putting together some action sequences that aren't necessarily overly original but there are solid from top to bottom, getting the job done with practical effects and fight sequences that at least look somewhat realistic, bringing in a variety of fighting styles and making them all mesh.
The story about the undercover cop who gets discovered and is trying to protect his loved ones has sadly been done about a million times before but Donnie Yen is a veteran actor and can sell this story well enough in the quiet moments between car chases and fight sequences. Not too many familiar faces for North American audiences but Jing Tian, Collin Chou, Andy On and Terrence Yin all do fine work in supporting roles.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are quite good and the special features include a brief behind the scenes look and the theatrical trailer.
At the end of the day, "Special ID" isn't quite good enough to survive as one of the more memorable entries in the genre, but it is more than good enough to worth a watch one lazy afternoon or evening.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Special ID" is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from all major retailers.