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Island Of Fire
cast: Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Sammo Hung, and Jimmy Wong Yu

director: Chu Yen-ping

93 mins (18) 1992 widescreen 16:9
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail
Also available to buy on video

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
Reportedly, this uneven crime drama cum action thriller was made as a sort of charity movie by Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Sammo Hung to help their old pal Jimmy Wong Yu out of dire financial straits. As such there's a hurried rough-cut quality to many scenes, and the narrative tilts from slapstick comedy to horror and violence without consideration for balance or sense. Basically, Island Of Fire is a tribute to Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Wild Geese (1978). Convicts are press-ganged into service as assassins by a sinister committee not unlike the renegade judges of The Star Chamber (1983). One character accidentally kills the brother of a top gangster, while the hero is a cop working undercover. Others are victims of a brutal prison system that dehumanises inmates through solitary confinement, beatings and summary execution. There are scenes lifted wholesale from offbeat US prison movies such as The Mean Machine (aka: The Longest Yard, 1974), and dropped into this exercise in adventure without consequences whether they suit the rest of the plot or not.
   Island Of Fire isn't a classic Chan film by any means. Various bits of the storyline are so clearly assembled on a whim that it may detract from viewing pleasure. But there are compensations in being able to compare the HK stars' differing styles of acting and the action packed finale is a terrific payoff after about an hour's worth of prison intrigue.
   DVD extras: excellent! Dual languages (in Mandarin with English subtitles, or a dubbed option), six-part animated Chan biography and filmography, interviews with co-stars Sammo Hung and Jimmy Wong Yu, and director Chu Yen-ping, nine deleted scenes (including one entire subplot), trailer, music promo, scene access, plus adverts for other HKL films.


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