Far East Film Festival 20

Udine Italy April 20th/ April 28th 2018
The Film Festival For Popular Asian Cinema
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
Wednesday, Apirl 26, time 11.15 AM

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Extraordinary Mission

Key creatives from Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs and Overheard trilogies delve into mainland China-focused crime cinema in Extraordinary Mission. With Alan Mak joined by noted cinematographer and first-time director Anthony Pun at the helm, and a script from Felix Chong, the new thriller turns to themes of drug trafficking and corruption as it gives the popular undercover-cop genre a new run. 

Extraordinary Mission’s secret agent is Lin Kai (Huang Xuan), who is introduced as he works his way into a mainland drug trafficking ring. After three years of gaining the trust of boss Cheng Yi (Wang Yanhai), Lin gets involved in a major heroin deal that goes wrong when uniformed cops pounce. As the mole flees the scene, he’s seized by the supplier who lost his goods in the bust.
Lin is promptly shipped off to the Golden Triangle to face the kingpin, Eagle (Duan Yihong), who’s running an immense hydroponic heroin facility and prides himself on the quality of his product. Lin senses an opportunity to bring down the ruthless drug lord, so after a quick detour to China and back to show his ability he proposes to handle the Greater China market and thereby get closer to the top. Complicating matters, however, is that Eagle knows a thing or two about having informers on his trail, and he’s super-careful in covering his tracks.
As the story builds, Extraordinary Mission digs into themes on tackling mainland narcotics and corruption problems and promotes China as a bold player in fighting the drug scourge. Some closing shots verge on looking like a public-security recruitment video, and amid the sensitive topics several lines geared to appeasing the authorities are barely disguised: praise for a cop’s heroics comes with a disclaimer that it’s not proper to skip protocol, for instance.

At the heart of the picture, however, is an enjoyable take on undercover-cop cinema. Elements of Mak and Chong’s past hits are channelled into the film, expanding old concepts and revisiting past flourishes like having the mole stealthily tap Morse code. Lin Kai makes for an attractive screen hero – a young man frequently risking death and spurred on by memories of his mother succumbing to drug abuse. Lead actor Huang Xuan shows he’s up for challenges in the wide-ranging role, and he plays off well against the charismatic nemesis.

Given the lead filmmakers’ pedigree, the look of the picture is accomplished. The team make striking use of locations like decaying industrial buildings, and employ a consistently dark palette for the China scenes. Action choreographer Li Chung-chi is called on to throw in regular action set pieces, starting just a few minutes in with car stunts. And the action gets bigger in Thailand-shot scenes, which include a nutty motorcycle chase that heads into a building and across rooftops. While Extraordinary Mission may lack the sheer sensationalism of last year’s big actioner Operation Mekong, which also focused on mainland authorities tackling a Golden Triangle drug lord, the filmmakers instead follow a more character-driven thriller approach to draw on their strengths while trying something different. Now with Pun joining them as co-director, Mak and Chong are showing no lack of ambition in extending their brand of filmmaking into new territory.
Tim Youngs
Film director: 
Alan Mak, Anthony Pun
Year: 
2017
Running time: 
117

Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw92PuR2XAE

Photogallery

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