Raging Fire Blu-Ray Review: Still the Best Action Movie of 2021

Raging Fire, Hong Kong director Benny Chan's last movie, is 2021's most intense action movie, which says a lot in a year where we have No Time to Die, F9, and The Suicide Squad. It also means something that Raging Fire was made for a tiny fraction of those movies. Chan, one of Hong Kong's premiere action directors whose movie career began in 1990, passed away last year after he finished shooting this, his 25th movie. Months after its theatrical run, watching the movie again on Blu-Ray, its impact feels greater given its underdog status against Hollywood blockbusters with $200 million budgets.

Raging Fire Blu-Ray Review: Still the Best Action Movie of 2021
"Raging Fire" cover art courtesy of Wellgo USA.

Donnie Yen plays the last honest cop in Hong Kong who goes against a gang of sociopathic ex-cops led by Nicholas Tse, who were all sent to prison on Yen's testimony years before. Now they're out for revenge against everyone who wronged them, from the top brass who abandoned them, the tycoon banker who sold them out, the entire HK Police Force, including Yen himself.

Raging Fire is almost anachronistically old school in its "good cop goes rogue to take down his former friend turned psycho" plot that's also a strident piece of copaganda. One common trope in Chan's action movies is that his bad guys are always sneering, sadistic sociopaths. They are never in the least bit sympathetic, even when being played by Nicholas Tse, who layers some nuance to a bad guy who's out to burn down the world. The raging fire of the title is his nihilistic thirst for revenge.

Benny Chan was one of the last of the Old School Hong Kong action directors who does everything as real as possible, and the characters on-screen look like they're really risking life and limb. CGI is reserved for blood squibs, removing wires, and making explosions look even bigger. There's a massive action setpiece every 10 minutes, from the opening raid in an abandoned mall to a fight in a shanty town with a drug gang (with a racist presentation of the only South Asian character to show up in the movie, and unfortunately, a common trope in Hong Kong movies). That ends up with a fight in the sewers to a mad car chase on the streets of Hong Kong, a hostage standoff in a school gym to an epic gunfight on the streets of Hong Kong that reimagines the big bank heist shootout from Michael Mann's Heat and cranks it up even further. Chan's glee here looks like he's willing to blow up Hong Kong to get the action on camera. It's not every day that a director literally goes out with a bang. Raging Fire feels like a summation of Chan's career and feels like one of the last Old School Hong Kong action movies.

To have Raging Fire on physical media actually feels important in light of the Chinese government censors directly taking over censorship oversight of Hong Kong movies and TV. It might be the last hurrah of Hong Kong action movies as we know it, and with literally any Hong Kong movie in danger of getting erased by the Chinese censors, having a Blu-Ray is a way of preserving cultural history.

Raging Fire is now available on VOD and Blu-Ray from Wellgo USA.

Raging Fire

Raging Fire Blu-Ray Review: Still the Best Action Movie of 2021
Review by Adi Tantimedh

Reassessed on Blu-Ray after its theatrical release, this is still the best action movie of 2021, especially comparing it to $200 million Hollywood blockbusters that are full of CGI. The action feels more real, more visceral, and might be the last hurrah of old school Hong Kong action movies.

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About Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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