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Out of Inferno - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Tao Qu Sheng Tian

Hong Kong 2013

Action, Thriller

Oxide Pang
Danny Pang

Lau Ching-Wan
Louis Koo
Angelica Lee
Chen Sicheng
Crystal Lee
Cheung Siu-Fai
Natalie Tong Sze-Wing
Jin Qiaoqiao
Marc Ma
Zang Jinsheng
Siu Fei
Hui Siu-Hung

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Out of Inferno

Story: The two brothers Tai Kwan (Lau Ching-Wan) and Keung (Louis Koo) had an argument four years ago and since that time haven't talked with each other. Tai has stayed at the fire department while Keung has started working at a fire protection systems company. Now, Keung finally holds the opening ceremony of his own company and by chance he runs into Tai's wife Si Lok (Angelica Lee), who has a doctor's appointment in the same building he works in. Actually, Tai was supposed to accompany her at her ultrasonic testing. But he doesn't only seem unhappy with the pregnancy of his wife, but also seems to love his work more than everything else. Then, because of a broken air conditioning system and the most humid day in years, a fire suddenly breaks out in the high-rise building. It spreads at an alarming rate and until the firefighters have arrived at the scene almost the whole building is engulfed in flames. Keung and Si Lok are cut off from the escape route at the upper levels because of a fire below them. Keung and Si Lok as well as some other individuals try to get to one of the rescue ladders of the fire department. However, this proves to be more dangerous than expected. But Tai Kwan also arrives at the scene and tries to save his family at all costs.

Review: Since the 70s flick "Towering Inferno" there has been almost no country that wouldn't have tried its hand at delivering a remake or reinterpretation of the high-rise-building-in-flames-theme. Nowadays, there seems to be a small wave of such movies flooding the screens, because after the South Korean "The Tower" Hong Kong also dabbles in making a disaster movie of this kind. However, there should be doubts about the quality of the movie because of the two directors involved. Danny and Oxide Pang haven't been able to bring to screen a decent movie for quite some time and sadly "Out of Inferno" also has its undeniable share of problems. Still, in respect to the film's entertainment value - that much can be said - the brothers surprise. There are guaranteed thrills and the action doesn't disappoint either. Yet, the movie falters constantly because of a screenplay that has been randomly cobbled together.

Out of Inferno - Film Screenshot 11

The reason for the bad screenplay is a sad event. Szeto Kam-Yuen, who this movie is dedicated to, has died after a long battle with lung cancer. The man who wrote some outstandingly tense stories in the shape of "Exiled" or "Accident" couldn't finish his work and therefore additional screenwriters were quickly hired, in order to finish the story. A whopping five individuals have pottered around the story. Accordingly, it isn't really a surprise that the story turns out to be very thin. Over and over again there are some good ideas shining through, but ultimately the movie always heads in a different direction. Especially at the beginning there is some sort of shift to be made out. But the thriller has some real issues when it comes to the characters' elaboration.

Out of Inferno - Film Screenshot 12

As in all films that center around the escape from a high-rise building in flames there are numerous characters introduced that apparently want to outdo each other when it comes to flatness. For example there is the jewelry thief that is a pain in the neck even in the beginning but who eventually turns out to be really unnerving. No one would act as stupid in the real world as he does. You want another example? Crystal Lee, who even won an award for her great acting achievement in "Unbeatable" is simply "the child" here. That's just sad and continues with the protagonists. Lau Ching-Wan - one of the best Hong Kong actors, period - looks unusually lifeless, only towards the end this changes a bit. To underchallenge him in this way is almost an insolence. It doesn't look different when it comes to Louis Koo, although he is a little bit more accessable for the viewer.

The wedge that is driven in the relationship between the two brothers is long undefined. When we learn more about the background there is once again disappointment taking hold. During those moments, when the Pang brothers try to build up some drama and emotions, the movie has its worst minutes. This is the fault of the badly written characters as well as of the contrived nature of those scenes. The drama isn't of any importance to the movie and actually it is just supposed to make us have a connection to the individuals. But the filmmakers simply fail here. However, where the movie can bring to bear its strength are the action scenes. They are at times pretty inventive and brought to screen in a thrilling fashion. One of the most breathtaking scenes involves a tower crane, but there are numerous other moments, although rather randomly written into the screenplay, that can make you sit at the edge of your seat.

Out of Inferno - Film Screenshot 13

The film's true star is the fire, though. It downright seems to be living and thanks to the sound effects it even seems to be breathing. During some moments CGI-effects were added to real fire, but most of the time the flames look extremely threatening and scary. Despite the 19 Mio. dollar production costs not all of the computer-generated special effects are convincing, though, and that's a shame. Maybe it's a different story when watching the movie in 3-D, which was actually the production's main focus, but for this review the 2-D Version had to do. Still, despite the well done action scenes the movie constantly gets lost and is also irritating because of its emotional scenes that are pushed to the fore too much including an obtrusive soundtrack. "Out of Inferno" surely is the best Pang brothers movie since "Re-Cycle", but all of you who also need some substance next to their action fest treat will once again find themselves being disappointed.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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