Martial arts films strike a precarious balance between story and fighting sequences. Sometimes they eschew the story altogether and it’s basically one fight after another, but then you run the risk of tiring your audience unless you change each fight to give them something new each time. Sometimes the weapon changes, sometimes it’s the setting.
The Brink is a good martial arts film that runs just a little long. Director Jonathan Li succeeds for the first half that does what it should do and manages to remain enticing. Once you get close to the hour mark, you’re kind of seeing the same thing you saw before. The movie tries to add the novelty of a typhoon, but it’s not really enough to keep our attention.
Cheng Sai Gau (Zhang Jin aka Max Zhang) is a disgraced cop whose partner is retiring and his lieutenant is trying to keep on a short leash. He’s pursuing criminal on the rise Jiang Gui Cheng (Shawn Yue) who takes over after his boss tries to off him. I found both lead roles engaging and without missing a beat, rooting for the bad guy. So far, so good.
The fight sequences are what make this film watchable. There’s a lot to keep your attention, but I feel the movie does overstay its welcome. With the broadcast of an impending typhoon, both cop and criminal will collide in rough waters for one last bout. The novelty for it being that they’re on a boat that is on the brink (pun intended) of getting drowned by the rough waters.
Lightly recommended with reservations for martial arts enthusiasts. They will either agree with me or enjoy the heck out of it, but I think cutting the runtime could’ve avoid tiring your audience in the end. The typhoon is well done, making it completely believable that the fight is taking place there, but the novelty is underwhelming and wears off quick. A shorter version would’ve worked better, but for some enthusiasts of the genre that can’t take enough this might be what they’re looking for.
That will do for now.