Shi wan huo ji (Fireline) (Lifeline) (1997)
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Critic Reviews for Shi wan huo ji (Fireline) (Lifeline)
Audience Reviews for Shi wan huo ji (Fireline) (Lifeline)
The last early Johnny To before he goes to make film noirs. This film is the very transition of To as a filmmaker from a hired-hand to a film auteur. You already can see familiar faces in later To's films like Ching-Wan Lau and Ruby Wong and some of his cinematic styles. His calm but passionate view on men of those occupations which makes most of "teamwork" and "bond" like firefighters and cops is already focused. His technique of describing their bond through piling up the scenes that are seemingly minor daily events starts with this film. Also, you cannot help but surprise how detail and powerful the second half of the film, which is the battle of firefighters against fire, is. However, the human drama of each main character is very stale and childish, and it results in spoiling the impression of the finale. This film also displays the weak point of Johnny To, and indeed, those background dramas of characters are excluded as much as possible in To's later films.
And you thought the characters in Ron Howard's "Backdraft" (1992) were as one-dimensional as a piece of cardboard that (literally) went up in flames on screen. Still, there's something to be said about the cast of "Lifeline" who wade through real fires for the sake of entertainment not having the luxury of a computer generated overhaul (though some CGI is present). In a moment of sheer irony star Lau Ching-wan, having just finished battling a formidable blaze, removes his oxygen mask and smokes a cigarette. Unfortunately, that's as close as Johnnie To comes to insight in this lukewarm fire fighting drama.
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