Island of Fire (1990)

Posted in Reviews by - March 14, 2015
Island of Fire (1990)

Cool Hand Luke meets La Femme Nikita in this promising drama – a Hong Kong homage to the Hollywood prison movie capitalising on the heroic bloodshed films of the time. The all-star ensemble cast is enough to spark interest (all of which appear in a bid to help relaunch Wang Yu‘s film career), yet Island of Fire is a muddled film. Vengeful characters inhabit a tough HK prison somewhere in the near future. Tony Leung – the movie’s real star – is a policeman sent undercover to sniff out corruption. Sammo Hung keeps escaping to visit his young son. Wang Yu is a crime boss who becomes a big cheese among the inmates. Jackie Chan is in for accidentally killing a gangster, and Andy Lau – the brother of said gangster – wants revenge. The film gets strange in the final third. It is revealed that the wardens are actually top governmental agents organising mock prisoner executions as a front to use the inmates as assassins. In a John Woo-style finale, Sammo, Jackie, Tony Leung and Andy Lau don black blazers and heavy artillery to flamboyantly annihilate an entire Filipino army. This isn’t your typical, all-smiles HK adventure. It is a dark and often brutal drama that may not sit comfortably with all viewers.

AKA: The Burning Island; Island on Fire; The Prisoner; When Dragons Meet

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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