Working as an undercover cop, Chan-Chi Lung/Dragon (Donnie Yen) has been assigned to a new mission in the Mainland. His new partner Fang (Tiang Jing) is eager to get Sunny (Andy On) and take down Xiong’s (Collin Chou) organization down. But Xiong is determined to weed out the infiltrators in his organization and Dragon is feeling the pressure. Knowing that his secret identity is in jeopardy, Dragon must now take more risky actions in order to return to his normal life.
Special ID showed some promise after I watched the trailer a few months back. The trailer showcased action and intense martial arts. But what we received in the final product was far from what was expected. I am not going to lie; I am a fan of Donnie Yen’s work and who wouldn’t be? After his work in recent films like IP Man, IP Man 2, Dragon, and Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Donnie Yen left me impressed. His martial arts techniques and work is quite impressive, showcasing enough finesse and class that it is hard not to become a fan. With Special ID, the Donnie Yen that was seen in previous roles was nowhere to be seen. The Donnie Yen that was on screen was simply not the same.
Special ID is somewhat of a disappointment because half way through the movie it is instantly noticeable that there’s an identity problem. Special ID doesn’t know what it wants to be, a modern gangster movie or martial arts movie. In many parts of the film we see this lack of identification specially in a modern setting all these gangs/mobs who still rely on street fighting and no firearms seems a bit out of place. Even the martial arts techniques seemed out of place, for an actor that has put out some fine martial films, Donnie Yen’s fighting techniques just appeared dull.
The script didn’t exactly help either, as it was a muddled mess and this is putting it lightly. Director Clarance Fok has many questionable decisions in Special ID although to be fair he did film some great action sequences. The action is what keeps this film floating, for a good action movie there has to be well…action and there was plenty of it. If you set aside every flaw that you see (and you will see many) the action is quite redeeming and enjoyable. This is the only thing that Special ID got right, the action, because aside from that it’s all just messy. For what it is worth, I suppose action films should be all action and this does that right. Just remember to leave your high expectations at the door.
Special ID arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode. The film features a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film featured vivid colors and very lively color palette. The film featured a few dark scenes that were excellent, but I did notice some scenes were overwhelmed by the darkness. The detailing is good throughout and even in the rainy dark scenes the details are visible. For what it is worth, the film looks good on Blu-ray.
Special ID arrives on Blu-ray with a Mandarin 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. The track features a prioritized dialogue. The dynamic range seems to work correctly and directionality is not too bad. The rears offer some support, but the not as active as I would like. The choices of the score were questionable and often it sounded like a very amateur job. The track does its job and Special ID sounds good. Please note that for those that like to watch foreign films with a dub, an English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is available.
Making of (4:06) – This is a standard making of featurette, the segment covers some of the fighting styles and choreography as well as the special effects used during the car chase scenes.
Previews – Iceman, The Suspect and The Wrath of Vajra
The frequent action sequences found within Special ID made the film enjoyable up to a certain degree because the rest of the film was just messy. But a few redeeming aspects managed to keep me in my seat, the fighting choreography which was great. Other than that, Special ID lacks everything except action and if you are looking for something more beefy you are out of luck. I would recommend a rent before a purchase.