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Fire of Conscience(2010)
Director Dante Lam follows The Beast Stalker with the powerhouse action thriller Fire of Conscience. Leon Lai and Richie Jen headline the hardboiled crime actioner as opposing cops with dark pasts that build to even darker consequences. Packed with gritty action and stylistic shootouts choreographed by action director Chin Kar Lok, Fire of Conscience paves the way for a brooding, burning showdown between two flawed men with many bullets at their disposal.
For more about Fire of Conscience and the Fire of Conscience Blu-ray release, see Fire of Conscience Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 18, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Dante Lam
Starring: Leon Lai, Richie Ren, Baoqiang Wang
» See full cast & crew
Fire of Conscience Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 18, 2010
Dante Lam's "For lung" a.k.a "Fire of Conscience" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar. The supplemental features on the disc include making of featurette and two theatrical trailers for the film. In Cantonese, with optional English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Captain Manfred (Leon Lai, Bodyguards and Assassins) is a man driven by anger. He lives in a van and dreams about finding the pickpocket who killed his beloved wife. When he does, he is going to tear him limb from limb. Then he will drink to forget.
Inspector Kee (Richie Ren, The Sniper) is madly in the love with a woman (Vivian Hsu, The Accidental Spy) everyone believes he should not love. He also realizes that the woman's past could cost him his career but does not care. There was a time when being a good cop meant everything to Kee, and that time is now long gone.
A prostitute is killed and Manfred is asked to solve the case. He quickly discovers that one of his men had visited the prostitute the same night she was murdered and goes berserk. Kee appears and befriends Manfred. The two even go out in the city.
The more Manfred learns about the dead prostitute, the more he begins to realize that her death is only a tiny piece in a giant puzzle. When he attempts to explain to his boss that things may not be as simple as they appear, however, Manfred is taken off the case.
Dante Lam's latest film may well be his best yet. It is raw and notably gritty action thriller with some very good protagonists who do not like playing by the rules – or at least not by the ones these types of films typically like to follow. This is not to say that there are no genre cliches in Fire of Conscience, there are quite a few, but they are definitely handled by Lam in a manner that actually adds to the type of atmosphere the film sustains.
Fire of Conscience moves at an incredible pace. Lam frantically unleashes all sorts of different clues pointing to the main protagonists' true nature, which even the most careful viewers will have a difficult time aligning properly. The only thing that becomes fairly easy to figure out early into the film is that none of the main protagonists are actually worth rooting for.
The action is first-class. There are a couple of scenes halfway through the film and one at the very end that will surely put a smile on the faces of hardcore action junkies – the shootouts are incredibly loud, the killings surprisingly graphic, and the camerawork outstanding.
The acting is just as impressive. Leon Lai is terrific as the disillusioned Manfred, who can't keep himself out of trouble. Admittedly, it is impossible to like him, as he is simply too mean, but there is something about his determination to deal with his enemies that deserves to be admired.
Richie Ren's character is even more complex. By the time the end credits roll, he undergoes so many transformations, it is absolutely impossible to tell what his true identity is. Like Lai's character, Ren's is also shockingly mean.
The supporting cast does not disappoint either. The beautiful Michelle Ye fits well into the mix of chaotic events, though admittedly there are a couple of scenes where she looks too elegant for a cop. The same could be said for Vivian Hsu, who has a small but very important role in the film.
Charlie Lam (Isabella) and Tse Chung-to's (The Beast Stalker) lensing is excellent. The wild car chases through the busy streets of Hong Kong look fabulous. Chan Ki-hop's editing is competent, though the memory flashbacks at the end of the film are a bit over the top.
Fire of Conscience Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Dante Lam's Fire of Conscience arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar.
This is a very strong high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is impressive, clarity pleasing and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme does not disappoint either - yellows, greens, blues, reds, browns, blacks and whites look lush and well saturated. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern. Neither is noise filtering. Furthermore, when blown through a digital projector the high-definition transfer conveys pleasing depth and excellent stability. For the record, I also did not detect any disturbing scratches, marks, or stains to report in this review. All in all, this is a lovely presentation of a very strong action thriller. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Fire of Conscience Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1. For the record, MegaStar have provided optional English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is excellent. The bass is powerful and punchy, the surround channels very active and the high-frequencies not overdone. There are a number of scenes in the film that will more than likely test the muscles of your audio system. The finale, for instance, which is reminiscent of that famous shootout in Michael Mann's Heat, sounds quite incredible. On the other hand, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable and very easy to follow.
As expected, the Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fairly flat and ineffective. I tested a couple of the big action scenes in the film to see how it compares to the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, and suffice to say, the gap in quality is enormous. Go straight for the Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
Note: While viewing the film, I noticed quite a few spelling and grammatical errors.
Fire of Conscience Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Making of - a standard featurette in which cast and crew members discuss their work on the film. In Cantonese, with optional English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese subtitles. (16 min, 480/60i)
Trailers - two theatrical trailers for the film. In Cantonese, with optional English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified subtitles. (4 min, 1080p)
Fire of Conscience Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is one hell of a film! If hardcore action is what your heart desires, do not miss Dante Lam's Fire of Conscience. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of Hong Kong-based distributors MegaStar, looks and sounds very good. If you reside in a Region-B territory, keep in mind that this is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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