The Brink: The Hong Kong Action Movie From Jonathan Li

The Brink is another winner for Max Zhang who continues to kick ass on screen with remarkable ease. It has style and action aplenty making it one of the best action movies of the year.

Burdened by a troublesome past, detective Sai Gau (Zhang Jin, from “S.P.L. II: A Time of Consequences”) is determined to put it behind him in order to catch Sheng (Shawn Yue, from “Infernal Affairs”), a ruthless gangster. Learning from his partner A-de (Wu Yue, from “Journey to the West”). That the trail of destruction he has left behind is due to his quest to retrieve a secret gold stash hidden away from notorious Triad boss Blackie (Yasuaki Kurata, from “Eastern Condors”) as he tries to use the funds in order to take over an offshore illegal gambling ring. The two begin a campaign of violence against the gang in order to stop him from getting to the funds first and bankrolling his entire operation.

The Brink (Canh Sat Luu Manh) turns out to be a very cut-and-dried action film. It is at it’s best when employing Li Chung-chi’s beyond-stellar action choreography. Which offers the traditional Hong Kong Action-Film flair. Full of hard-hitting, close-quarter brawls with dynamic participants getting the chance to showcase their skills. Not only is the intensity impressive but the frequency this dives into such scenes really helps move the film along. From brawls in the midst of drug hideouts to the fantastic encounter at the warehouse where they stumble upon an execution attempt and must deal with the forces of the gang present at the time, to a standout battle in a field of parked cars looking for a suspect hidden inside.

These are fun, creative and exciting action scenes that fully exploit the martial arts prowess of those involved and come off quite enjoyable. Likewise, once it delves into the few gunplay scenarios including a speargun fight underwater or a stellar fight on a boat under massive swells at sea. The movie creates a fine counterpoint to the other action throughout.

Another enjoyable aspect to be found here is Li’s direction. For a first-time director. This offers up far more pronounced and assured scenes than expected, including a grisly sequence of a forest of dead bodies suspended from trees or an intriguing round of brawls in the murky depths of a sunken cache of gold underwater which is awash in bright, garish blues and greens, which makes for a rather memorable sequence.

Other such scenes, from a fight taking place during a strobe light-like effect or suddenly flashing the screen to black in the middle of the conversation shows a pretty dynamic approach to the material, as well as focusing on close-ups and tight-shooting for the various brawls that have become de rigeur for this Hong Kong style action film which shows an appreciation of the past as well. On the whole, this is a slick and quite finely produced effort which makes it all the more enjoyable.

The other enjoyable aspect of this one is the leads’ fine acting. As the heroic cop Cheng Sai Gau, Zhang Jin offers up a strong and serviceable hero. Finally able to play a good guy. He serves as a strong, focused moral center with his determination to uphold justice and punish criminals, which is what brings him into contact with the gang here. Attempts at humanizing him with a seldom-seen female friend who’s the daughter of a former partner he failed to protect offers little in the way of showing him as a single-minded individual who offers a strong if otherwise unmemorable focus.

The leader of the criminal gang. Jiang Gui Cheng as played by Shawn Yue, is a much more memorable villain who’s a cold-hearted mercenary in the best sense with his utterly ruthless approach and backhanded actions, from killing a man’s son in front of him for disobeying instructions to plotting to steal gold out from under a colleague’s possession.

Shawn Yue is a wonderful villain; he is nasty but not totally heartless but a complete badass who never loses his cool no matter what.

The music score is fantastic as well with some righteous electric guitar and pounding percussion elevating the action scenes with a shot of adrenaline; admittedly the operatic voice at the end caused some unintentional mirth.

Overall. The Brink is one of the best action movies I’ve seen for some time. It should be put on your radar ASAP.

Movie Info

A renegade cop is on a mission to bring a shady smuggler to justice by any means necessary. When his investigation leads to a Triad mob boss and global smuggling ring. His manhunt quickly turns from local misconduct into a violent international incident. A relentless barrage of high flying action and explosive fight sequences, in this breakneck thriller. Once the fists start flying, they never stop — not even underwater.

Rating: NR
Genre: Action & Adventure, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Jonathan Li
Written By: Paco Wong
On Disc/Streaming: Aug 20, 2019
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: Well Go USA Entertainment

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