Let’s get this right out of the way: As The Light Goes Out is a dramatic disaster film about firefighters.
Bạn đang xem: As the light goes out (gau fo ying hung): film review
If you really sit and ponder that for a few minutes, you can probably bản đồ out a good part of the film and correctly identify certain story beats, themes, và genre tropes that will emerge. In reading some of what others have said on Letterboxd, many of the reviews seem to lớn fault the film for a certain amount of predictability & formula. I’m not sure what lớn think of these kinds of đánh giá or the expectations of those who make these kinds of statements. “Disaster response” is not a genre that demands reinvention; it just needs lớn be done well.
Is the film done well? The answer to that is an emphatic “yes”.
Directed and co-written by Derek Kwok, As The Light Goes Out follows a group of firemen on Christmas Eve as they giảm giá khuyến mãi with a seemingly routine firefight that escalates into a massive problem. Alongside the immediate plot, the film shows us many of the problems and interactions that the various firefighters in the group khuyễn mãi giảm giá with. One of the foremost issues is a looming philosophical debate of heroism versus safety, with characters falling on different sides of the argument.
In the film’s opening flashback, three of the main characters were cited for taking unnecessary risk during a previous rescue operation (one of them voluntarily took the fall for the others), & the debate is a constant part of the crew’s daily life. What some consider bravery, others are quick lớn cite as stupidity or endangerment. On contemplation I even have a theory — and this is total speculation on my part — that some of the more reckless heroism in the film is subconsciously suicidal in nature. If true, the film actually cuts even deeper than I first realized.
Other problems face the various team members. The senior officers giảm giá with grueling office bureaucracy & trying to lớn maintain order in chaos, as well as disagreement with each other. An older crewman faces the inevitability of aging and the toll that a life of firefighting và smoking has taken on his body. Several khuyến mãi with family problems and a lifestyle that alienates them from their wives và kids, và still others carry demons with them from the horrors they’ve seen.
I’m speaking in broad strokes và generically referring lớn characters because I don’t want lớn just spell everything out, particularly in a genre where things may feel predictable. This may all sound lượt thích pretty basic stuff but it’s the common human drama that makes you care for the team, and brings weight lớn the characters once the heavy stuff starts.
Even before the film’s inevitable “big fire”, we see plenty of the team in operation, fighting building fires, rescuing civilians, & constantly putting their lives on the line. This aspect is never cheapened or taken for granted — every fire is dangerous và has the potential to lớn turn deadly at any time, and the film visually reminds us that the toxic smoke is as deadly an element as the flames.
The massive nguồn plant explosion that serves as the film’s major conflict is a huge và impressive showcase of smoke & fire effects work, most of which they stick the landing on. With the massive setting, there are several huge và exciting set-pieces for the heroes to navigate in their search-and-rescue op. The creativeness & tone of the set-pieces frequently reminded me of The Towering Inferno, another superb disaster film which probably represents the pinnacle of this sort of picture. A torrent of rain has the opposite effect of what the audience might expect: rather than dousing the fire, it prevents smoke from leaving the building, creating an even heavier và more poisonous environment.
The worst thing about the fire is that is was preventable. Earlier in the film, several firefighters point out the danger presented by a gas pipeline in close proximity lớn an earlier fire, và express concern for the situation. These are dismissed, due khổng lồ a combination of holiday concern & bureaucratic red tape. When the fire reignites, they urge the power nguồn plant manager khổng lồ cut off the pipeline, but he refuses to do so because it’s Christmas Eve và he can’t be the guy who ruined Christmas for the neighborhood whose nguồn goes out. So instead he runs an unnecessary risk & ends up blowing up the entire power plant, blanketing all of Hong Kong in darkness.
Nice going, asshole.
While watching the film, I actually identified a bunch of little flaws and nitpicks (for example, in a convenience of the script, one of the kids stuck in the power plant is the son of one of the firefighters) but after dwelling on it for a few days most of those have simply fallen khổng lồ the wayside in the face of the bigger themes and epicness of the overall experience. As I have revisited scenes from the film for this review, it just keeps resonating and growing on me more & more.
The epic tone of the film comes in great part due lớn the music, a combination of the film’s score and some great musical selections. The film’s haunting & amazing finale is set lớn David Gilmour’s rendition of Bizet’s Je Crois Entendre Encore, và it’s absolutely wonderful. I’m also a big tín đồ of end credits that drive trang chủ a film’s tone, & in this respect As The Light Goes Out caps off perfectly with a touching closing shot that segues into the insanely pretty theme tuy nhiên that I’ve now been playing on repeat these last few days.
As The Light Goes Out makes its domestic debut on Blu-ray, DVD, và VOD from WellGoUSA. The movie is presented in the original Cantonese with English subtitles. The disc is actually pretty lightweight, with only a trailer to lớn complement the film.
Special Features & Extras
Previews (4:50) The disc includes trailers for three WellGoUSA titles, Iceman (1:38), Firestorm (1:41), & Special ID (1:31). These trailers also appear as autoplay pre-menu advertisements.
The disc may be barebones, but what a movie. I’m glad to lớn see any major Chinese or HK action film that doesn’t revolve around martial arts or cops và robbers, but even so, it surprised me how much I liked As The Light Goes Out, và I’m even more impressed that the film continues to lớn grow on me. Bravo, Derek Kwok. Bravo.
Film yakker, wisecracker, tact lacker. Contributing Editor at ewansturman.com. Http://letterboxd.com/VforVashaw