Certainly not what I expected from a film from Hong Kong!
As the Light Goes Out is not the sort of movie I’d ever expect to see from Hong Kong. After all, most of the films we get here in the States from Hong Kong and the rest of China are mostly martial arts films or violent cop films. However, in an odd departure from the usual fare that they usually send to the West is an action-packed soap opera-like film about firemen. It’s not the sort of film I’d like to see a lot of, but it certainly is unique, stylish and amazingly epic in proportions—and is worth seeing.
The film begins with a prologue that is important later in the film—and this provides a lot of the dramatic tension and soap opera-like elements throughout the movie. As far as the soapy elements go, they didn’t do much for me—so I really don’t want to go into any detail about things like the betrayal, broken relationships, a lost child, redemption and the like—just see the film.
What I do think is important is the action—something I usually dislike in films. I am just not a viewer who loves lots of explosions and stunts, though I was bowled over by this one and recommend it because of its effects. In many ways, this film looks better and more epic in scale than the sorts of movies Hollywood is doing. A typical Stallone, Willis or Schwarzenegger film pales by comparison to As the Light Goes Out! It is simply something to see and I hope you get a chance to see it on a big screen. And, combined with a HUGE scope is some amazingly evocative Chinese operatic music that makes the whole thing so unique and so gripping that it is a one-of-a-king experience—and I appreciate this the most about the movie.
The film is set on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong. While most folks are taking time off from work and gearing down, the fire department is ever-vigilant in case of disaster. And, a disaster is exactly what is soon about to strike—as a fire in an abandoned warehouse ends up beginning a chain of events that plunges the city into darkness and threatens many lives. And, thanks to the many selfless firemen, the city might stand a chance at survival.
The film is filled with one amazing disaster and explosion scene after another—this I grew to expect. But what surprised me is that much of the dialog was in English—mixed in with the Chinese! This also occurs in many Indian films and I assume it’s a carryover from the old British Empire days. What also was a bit of a surprise was a cute little cameo from Jackie Chan … as Jackie Chan! The only parts of the film that just didn’t work for me were some of the ultra-macho scenes (such as the fight at the 48-minute mark) and soapy situations—but mercifully they were not a major hindrance in the film. Overall, it’s a unique and breathtaking film that is worth your time—even if the plot is, at times, a bit silly and silly.
Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer