Fans of martial-arts action adventures go for the fight scenes, and there’s a showdown at the end of Wilson Yip’s otherwise generic cops-versus-criminals thriller that’s a doozy. Ma (Yen) is a police officer—you know the type: a loose cannon with no regard for due process, etc.—who’s been tracking a Triad bigwig (Chou) for months. It’s finally down to these two, and the resulting smackdown is jaw-dropping. Fists, feet and knees fly by in a blur, bodies get abused with violent grace, and actor–stunt choreographer Yen turns a scissor kick into an acrobatic pièce de résistance. The five-minute sequence produces the same ecstatic sensation you get when watching NBA power forwards and ballet dancers at the top of their game; for a moment, you can almost believe it’s the early ’90s again, when discerning cinegeeks could count on Hong Kong to consistently deliver primo movie mayhem.
Yet the problem with Flash Point is everything that leads up to that brief encounter. Yip brings nothing unique or fresh to the movie’s main plot involving an undercover cop (Koo), and the video-game soundtrack that accompanies every action sequence only emphasizes the film’s one-dimensionality. Not even a choice ass-whupping can make up for the plodding familiarity that precedes it.