Review: Director Dante Lam’s THE RESCUE is a Strange Mixture of Exciting and Fatigue

By: The Arty Dans

The Rescue

Director: Dante Lam

Starring: Eddie Peng, Wang Yanlin, Xin Zhilei, and Lan Yingying

Who remembers Chinese cinema from 2018 and 2019, when a whole bunch of movies about Chinese servicemen were made?

From Operation Mekong and Red Sea, to The Bravest, The Captain and SWAT – everything was fair game to be turned into a movie. Some, like The Bravest and The Captain were based on true stories, others, like Dante Lam’s previous movies, were action filled fictional stories.

Well, welcome to the first Chinese movie about their elite Coast Guard Rescue squad, and wow, did Dante Lam pile on everything and the kitchen sink in this one!

What’s the movie about?

Gao Qian is the elite of the elite. The leader of the Coast Guard rescue squad who is responsible for the actual rescue proponent of the rescue missions. He has a small and loyal team, full of highly trained and very fit men.

But after their helicopter pilot quits, the new replacement Fang Yuling causes a little bit of ruckus with the young men. She is a serious, but pretty, woman with a strong focus on getting the job done right without putting anyone at risk. Kind of in contrast to what Gao Qian does.

Gao Qian is also a single father, and as the movie progresses, elements of drama are added into his exciting yet tragic storyline, culminating in a typical movie happy ending.

Is it worth watching ?

Dante Lam – he has a pretty impressive list of Hong Kong action movie credits to his name. The Twins Effect, the Viral Factor, Beast Cops and even Beast Stalker – they’re fun films, but they’re not really masterpieces.

But his Chinese movies – the two Operation titles Mekong and Red Sea, now they’re impressive. Patriotic and very red, but very high budget and full of over-the-top action.

And that’s what The Rescue is, a special effects laden action set piece after action set piece movie that has its pace, thankfully, interrupted by some cute scenes of his tragic family life.

Because its as if the writers didn’t feel there was enough drama and action in this movie, that they also needed to ensure that Gao Qian suffered in his personal life as much as he suffered at work.

Action wise, well… what to really say? It’s actors in front of green screen reacting to explosions and other dangerous situations that are added in post-production. For the most part, they all do a great job, but wow did they really over do it in this film.

CGI has allowed a lot of new techniques in filmmaking, and none more so than over the top action, and if its not bad enough to see a oil platform blow up and collapse into the sea, you’ll get a domestic plane crash and a natural gas tanker also blow up and collapse into the sea.

And thank god this is all CGI, because I’d hate to see what kind of environmental damage this would cause in real life, just for the sake of a movie.

Memorable Moments

There’s a lot of pretty explosions, most of the time there are multiple ones in the same scene, with the exception of the plane crash.

And believe it or not, that was my favourite rescue in the film. Sure, it was sad, but I like the way this one was done. There was a real sense of urgency in trying to rescue as many passengers and crew as possible, and a real methodical series of actions in how the rescue was conducted, from winching the end of the plane’s fuselage, the way they sorted out the severity of each passengers’ injuries, to the tasteful way they handled any dead passengers. It was a great scene, and it was great to watch, and no doubt made more exciting the real involvement of the Chinese Coast Guard in the production of the movie.

And while on reflection I thought that the scenes involving Gao Qian and his son Congcong were maybe unnecessary, I get why they are there, to build up his sense of community involvement. This element was probably the “reddest” element of the whole film, where an individual should put their life ahead of the lives of others in need. Some viewers might not like this, especially the choice he makes at the end of film to leave the hospital, made even more obvious by his superior asking why he didn’t stay there.

Speaking of his son, the little boy who plays in the role, Zhang Jingyi, was pretty awesome. With his mop of curly hair, innocent questions and, something that I am a sucker for in any film, farting.

Somehow movies seem to be just a little bit better with some farting.

Not so hot!

It’s just all that human drama, I didn’t really want that in my action film. I can’t help but feel a bit of trim to some of the peripheral storylines could have saved the audience about 15-20 minutes.

The rescue scenes themselves already had plenty of drama in them. From the rescuing the tanker driver while his cabin rushes down the rapids, to the final rescue on the gas tanker, there was already enough over the top drama that we didn’t need that extra storyline about his son.

A lot of people are also to focus on the special effects. There is a lot of them, and some of them are quite poor. Worse part is they used some of those poor effects for the trailer, so the movie was already on the back foot with the audience.

While there are some great effects; one that sticks out for me happens specifically in the rapids scene with the quickly shifting “bullet-time” style camera movement; most of them are just rather blah. Too much computer effects can result in fatigue, and there is no doubt that by the end of film you’re going to be sick of seeing explosions and metal structures falling into the oceans.

My last point is not so much a negative, but a comment on Eddie Peng. How the hell do you still look so damn young? No one would ever guess you are 39 years old as of release of this film.

In the end, this movie is strange mixture of exciting and fatigue.

It’s fun in burst, tedious in others.

But the fun parts were exciting enough, and that means I enjoyed more parts of the film than I expected, which means I’ll give this a thumbs up, just on enjoyment and explosion factor alone.

Don’t watch this if you’re expecting a serious action film, that’s not what this movie was made for.

If you’ve seen it, what did you think?

TRAILERS has partnered with the awesome website and YouTube channel Asian Film Fans to bring you the best in Asian action, horror, fantasy and comedy. All info and trailers are courtesy of AFF.

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