Second entry in Ringo Lam’s “on Fire” quadrilogy, “Prison on Fire” was Hong Kong’s second highest grossing film in the year of its release, and a different stepping stone in the path Ringo Lam and Chow Yun-fat had been taking towards the top rated of HK cinema.
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Yiu is a young marketing executive in Hong Kong. A single evening, in the course of an attack his father suffers from thugs, he ends up pushing a single of them in front of a passing bus, in a series of events that finish up with him sentenced to devote 3 years in prison. In an atmosphere filled with sadistic or illogical personnel (head guard Scarface and the prison physician respectively), bullies and triad members, Yiu appears like a fish outdoors the water. Fortunately, Mad Dog, a cheerful inmate who knows the ins and outs of prison, requires him below his wing, attempting to safeguard him from everybody. Nonetheless, as Scarface plays the different prison gangs against each and every other, mostly Bill and Micky, Yiu finds himself in the middle of violence, although a hunger strike to protest the increasing costs inside the prison adds even additional fuel to the fire.
Ringo Lam directs a film that unfolds in a quantity of levels. There is a sociopolitical level about how the correctional program performs, with the reduce officers basically operating the show in their rather corrupt way, and the larger ups pretending that they do not see what is taking place, a comment that is presented right here a quantity of instances. Additionally, this is also a story about male friendship and dedication, with the way the partnership among Yiu and Mad Dog unfolds, with each ultimately sacrificing themselves for the other, getting a single of the most attractive components right here. Lastly, and by way of this friendship and the aforementioned situations in prison, the way the two guys are forced to transform into rather violent human beings in order to survive concludes this fairly attractive narrative.
At the very same time, and regardless of the common image, the film also thrives on its person scenes, and especially the action sequences, which highlight Lam’s capability to direct lots of folks at the very same time as substantially as the exceptional mixture of drama and brutality that permeates all of them. Especially right after a point, when Lam locations the minor components of comedy of the starting to the background and as an alternative focuses on the aforementioned mixture, the film definitely picks up, till the rather impactful ending. The a single in the courtyard, which also serves as the “introduction” of Scarface, the a single exactly where Yiu ends up losing it and most of all, the a single exactly where Mad Dog erupts are definitely wondrous to watch, basically elevating the film substantially above some script difficulties and the occasional clowning by Chow Yun Fat. This aspect also added benefits the most from Huang Wen-Yun’s cinematography captures the claustrophobic setting of the prison with realism and artistry, and the frantic pace, as implemented by the editing.
And speaking about Chow, as quickly as the drama/violence element becomes the central ones, he shows what he is capable of, providing a definitely spectacular overall performance that has him taking care of Yiu although getting violent towards all other people, but most of all Micky and Scarface. The antithesis with Tony Leung Ka-fai’s Yiu is a different of the terrific traits of the film, that highlights each the acting and the narrative in the finest style. As such, the downward spiral of each towards madness is a testament to their performances, and however a different trait of the film.
“Prison on Fire” is a correct classic of HK action cinema, and a film that has stood the test of time in the finest style, remaining a should-watch till currently.