Wednesday, July 03, 2019

NYAFF ’19: The Fatal Raid

Doesn’t it warm your heart to see cooperation between the different Chinas? In this case, police officers from Hong Kong, Macau, and possibly Taiwan (at least she is teased for being a Taiwanese spy) team up to stop a senior HK cop gone rogue. Madam Fong and her team happen to be women, but they are as lethal as vintage Michelle Yeoh. They will clean up their male colleagues’ mess in Jacky Lee’s The Fatal Raid (a.k.a. Special Female Force 2: The Fatal Raid), which screens during the 2019 New York Asian Film Festival.

Technically, this is a sequel, but don’t worry about coming in cold. Lee quickly catches the audience up on all the back-story they need to know. Frankly, the subtitles for the screener viewed for this review were not great either, but that hardly matters. Fatal Raid is all about action first and attractive women holding guns second. As such, its language is universal.

Twenty-some years ago, before the handover of Macao and Hong Kong, (which the subtitles refer to as the “regression,” perhaps more accurately than was intended), Tam led a secret HK police operation in Macao that turned into a bloodbath. To avoid embarrassment, the top brass covered up the incident and disavowed all claims for compensation from the deceased officers’ next of kin. The titular raid still haunts Tam, so he decides to take advantage of the new deputy commissioner’s first public appearance in Macao to strike. The ultimate objective is a little murky, but there is no missing the slam-bang chaos that ensues.

 So, action. Lots of it. Honestly, Fatal Raid has the energy and tragic sensibility of John Woo films, circa Hard Boiled, with some “chicks-with-guns” fan service thrown in for extra added meathead appeal. Arguably, Jade Leung and company manage to be both feminist role models and guy-friendly eye-candy, but there are so many bullets whizzing through the air, nobody will have a chance to analyze the film’s gender politics.

Leung is pretty darned steely as Madam Fong. Malaysian pop-star Lin Min-chen is also quite engaging as the strait-laced, fast-tracked Yan Han. Likewise, Hidy Yu, Jeana Ho, and Jadie Lin show off some impressive action chops as their colleagues. The brooding is mostly left to the guys, particularly Patrick Tam, who seethes and agonizes as his guilt-ridden namesake.

This is a massively violent film, but it is also a lot of fun. If you imagine the shootout at the end of Michael Mann’s Heat raised to the power of ten and expanded to fill three twenty-minute windows and you might have a notion of what the film is like. Very highly recommended for action fans, The Fatal Raid screens this Friday (7/5), as part of NYAFF ’19.