Special ID: A Return to the Self

By Wun Kuen Ng

Detective Chen Zilong (Donnie Yen 甄子丹) has been assigned as an undercover cop for eight years, because of his rough manners while he was an officer. In the criminal underworld, his nickname is “Ah Long,” or Dragon Chen. Sporting tattoos on his neck, a moustache, and a thick silver chain, Chen has to fight rivals in a mahjong game to free three of his captured brother gang members. Chang Maixiong (Collin Chou), head of a triad, asks Chen to dig up some dirt on Sonny, a former gang member whom he believes had betrayed him. Chen wants to stop being an undercover cop, and leave the criminal underworld behind so that his mother doesn’t get hurt. To be promoted as a regular good cop, Chen agrees to a final investigation to crack down on the Triads. Chen also agrees to confront Sonny, his former underling gangster brother six years ago. Chen is sent to Nanhai, China to work with a new partner (Jing Tian) to uncover and destroy the Triad network.

The action scenes with the car can leave the audience on the edge of one’s seat. The fighting scene with Sonny, and strong female lead (Jing Tian) makes one want to drive with caution, especially when she does a split in the car.

The acting done for Sonny’s thug character was very convincing. Chen’s not so much, but then again he is an undercover cop trying to be a gangster. Jing Tian does a decent job as a mainland Chinese cop having cultural differences with Chen’s way of working. The crying scene after Jing Tian kills Daofeng, the assassin ordered to kill Sonny, seems out of character except to create a forced intimacy with Chen.

The film Special ID (特殊身份) has three languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. It is unclear why some characters in some places speak a specific language. In one scene, two to three languages are used interchangeably. It does not add to the character or to the scene. Perhaps, it is done in order to appeal to an international audience.

Director: Clarence Fok Yu-Leung
Cast: Donnie Yen, Collin Chou, Tain Jing
Producer: Peter Pau, Donnie Yen
Genre: Action & Adventure, Foreign
Sub Genre: Crime, Martial Arts, Urban
Run Time: 99 minutes
Theatrical Date: March 7, 2014
Languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, English, with English subtitles

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9OfMGhemwU

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