Extreme Crisis (1998)

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/20/2008
Summary: Mediocre

I agree with the majority of reviews here: Extreme Crisis is fairly mediocre, plagued by wooden acting, god-awful dialogue, and lack of emotional involvement, just to name a few "treats." Julian Cheung is in my opinion one of the worst actors in HK, alongside Ekin Cheng and Michael Wong.

I further agree with this rather sad piece of reality: "The best thing about this movie is Na Ying singing <Weep no More> over the closing credits."

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/12/2007

The life of a stuntman in Hong Kong is often one with a lot of pain with little in the way of glory. Bruce Law has worked with most of the top stars in action films, such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and made them look good, but has received next to no credit for doing so. However, for all their faults, the local industry does (at least for the most part) reward hard work.

And so, after several years of hurting himself in front of the camera for the viewer's pleasure, Law was granted a spot behind the scenes in the director's chair with Extreme Crisis. Unfortunately, the result was a box office flop that was panned by critics.

Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20, and looking at Extreme Crisis now some nine years after its' initial release reveals that it's actually a damn fine action movie. Sure, it's dopey. Of course, it's derivative. And it's a given that none of the acting is going to win any awards. But is it fun? Hell yeah.

Most of the harsh criticism of Extreme Crisis points to the script, which I will agree with for the most part. For some unfathomable reason, it took six people to sit down and look at the newspapers of the time, see stories about religious cults setting off sarin gas attacks in Japan, and then decide that combining them with a standoff between the cops and criminals with hostages in a building ala Die Hard would equal boffo box office.

Aggravatingly, Extreme Crisis also subscribes to the multi-lingual mish-mash that Hong Kong productions were favoring at this time, supposedly to entice foreign audiences. So we get stuff like Japanese people speaking in their native tongue to Chinese people, who then respond to them in Cantonese, to which they talk back in English -- which, of course, everyone seems to understand, but no one really ever speaks it, except at pivotal plot points. And somehow this is all supposed to keep making sense.

And even if every actor was speaking the same language, there would still be a hell of a lot of problems. Julian Cheung is absolutely uninspiring as the lead, and, more disappointingly for most of the straight male readers out there, Hsu Chi was still in her full-on "annoying eye candy" mode here.

This wouldn't be such a bad thing necessarily if she was allowed to be well, you know, hot. There's actually a bit where Julian tells her to not be so "sexy" by not having her top button undone. What a tramp! The Japanese actors involved seem to try and do a good job, but since they're forced to deliver cheeseball lines in English for the majority of their work, it's hard to judge their output.

But despite all its' problems, Extreme Crisis still warrants a recommendation based on its' action scenes. Bruce Law might be a screw-up of a "real" director, but he sure as hell can make some good old-fashioned ultra-violence.

And yeah, it might be because of the relatively tepid recent output -- not just from Hong Kong, but pretty much everywhere else in the world -- but there is a certain grittiness to the action scenes (ie, no overuse of CGI) present here that gave the action sequences a bit of punch that is much appreciated.

The bottom line is: if you're looking for a movie that is conducive to just kicking back with a few adult beverages and having a good time with, then Extreme Crisis is something right up your alley. It might ultimately be put in the "guilty pleasures" file, but at least you won't be itching to hit the fast-forward button halfway through.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 06/11/2004
Summary: not that bad, honest!

For the longest time I thought I'd seen this film, having it mixed up with FULL ALERT and BIG BULLET in my head, both of which came out around the same time. Eventually I realised I hadn't actually seen it, and decided maybe I should. The film seems to have disappointed most (re)viewers upon its release, and has come in for a lot of bashing, mainly about the same thing - namely the fact that the plot seems to bounce between cliche and incoherence without stopping for things like character development. Well, it's true - though I hope some of the incoherence comes from the crappy English subtitles (e.g. I'm sure there was more to the exchange that led to the cops tracking down the terrorists than "There's a Japanese chemist called X in Hong Kong", "Let's Go").

But anyway, high art it is most definitely not - but nor is it trying to be. The film was the directorial debut of HK's number one car stunt man Bruce Law, and his main ambition was simply to set a new level for stunt work and action work in HK films. Now, I need to be more specific there - he wasn't trying to up the ante on the martial arts and acrobatics of masters like Jackie Chan, or to beat the grace and style of gunplay maestros like John Woo - his aim was to achieve Hollywood-like levels of big explosions, special effects and "realistic" gunplay. And I think he achieved a great result. The action scenes are really impressive, putting many Hollywood films with much higher budgets to shame. There's some great "how did they do that?" moments, and the film achieves a pretty high level of basic hormonal excitement.

One of the criticisms that many people seem to level at the film is that in the second half it wants to be DIE HARD too much. Again, fair enough - it's obviously in full on "homage" mode, but then DIE HARD is still pretty much the text book Hollywood action film 20 years after it was made, so it's a pretty worthy ambition of Bruce LAW to try to emulate its successful aspects.

So, if you want to bash EXTREME CRISIS then it's an easy enough target - there's plenty wrong with it. But to do so is to miss the things it did manage to accomplish that make it quite a special film. One may be disappointed that it was amongst the first wave of "Hollywood Envy" films from Hong Kong, but it is one of the few that managed to do a credible job of it and still keep a certain Hong Kong charm.

Sadly, the only way to see the film right now seems to be the dismal DVD from Universe. In 1998 I guess it was what we were all used to expecting, but with the higher standards becoming common today it is difficult to watch one of these mastering disasters from then. The picture is non-anamorphic, naturally, with poor blacks and colour saturation, and severe "smearing" of the kind seen on Universe's A HERO NEVER DIES disc from the same period. Something to do with crappy and excessive temporal noise reduction, I think, but the result is that all fine detail is lost when there is movement on screen, as after-images compound to turn the picture into a muddy mess. The sound is just as bad, with a "mixed by monkeys" 5.1 remix that is particularly damaging in the action scenes, where foley effects are mixed with seemingly random volume levels and sometimes out of sync. OK, so it's not unwatchable, but it's definitely a poor presentation, and unfortunately it doesn't seem that Universe have any plans to remaster their back catalogue like Mei Ah.

Still, I'm sure the DVD can be had for very cheap, and I reckon it's worth picking up :)

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/05/2002

Bad cast, bast story, bad film.

It might be worth watching if you are lying six feet deep!!


Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 01/07/2002
Summary: Na Ying

The best thing about this movie is Na Ying singing "Weep no More" over the closing credits. Other than that, I agree with everybody else. Boring movie for the most part.

Reviewed by: Trigger
Date: 11/20/2001
Summary: Basically Sucked

The Film - 4.5/10

Die Hard meets The Rock is what I've heard this film amounts to. I think this film shares little with each film individually, but basically you can make general comparisons to these films. Shu Qi is in this and she is a little underused for my taste. After the first 15 minutes you can turn it off and you've seen the best this film has to offer pretty much. The acting is a little stiff and the English is very forced. This film has alot of English spoken in it and they don't know when to pause in their sentences. I think they used English appropriately, but the actors just weren't coached well enough on how to speak it correctly. This movie also suffered from bad foley and a weak score... the score was a typical action movie score that kept repeating throughout - if you watch the film on a small TV with it turned down low, you won't even notice. The foley (sound effects) department couldn't always land all the punches on time with what was going on on screen... a little distracting at times. Not the worst film ever, but it has a few merits.

The Plot - 4/10

The plot was garbage about this terrorist group who gets their hands on some chemicals that can wipe out the entire city of HK and take over a TV station. They demand that their leader is released from prison or the city will be destroyed. Inept SDU officers die left and right and an unlikely pair of rebel police officers take it upon themselves to thwart the evil scheme. It's a silly action film - what do you expect? It's kinda like Shiri, but not nearly as good.

The Action - 5.5/10

Not the worst thing I've ever seen - plenty of explosions and gunfire. Films like this make me think the SDU is worthless - but there's some films out there that say otherwise, so that's ok. Some of the effects were actually good and there was a driving sequence in the beginning that was pretty cool (if you can overlook a few physically impossible moments.

The DVD - 7.5/10

This DVD by Universe had some decent extras - you could even say it's packed almost. The transfer wasn't the best though - you don't notice really until the end credits when you realize the resolution is poor enough that the credits appear blurry like you're watching a VCD. The colors were good though and it's a clean print. I guess I can't complain too much about the transfer - had I not seen the credits problem I wouldn't have noticed. The sound I can't comment on too much cuz I watched it on my small TV and not in my living room theater. For the money - it's a good buy if you like the film.

What I Learned -

I learned that if you put Shu Qi in a movie, I'll keep it in my DVD library - and no matter how bad that movie is, I won't score it below a 4.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/17/2001
Summary: i agree with resdog781

I found it boring and pointless and the action was only average at best, a MISS!!


Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/11/2001
Summary: extreme crisis

I shall say I was very impressed with this little gem. A non stop action/suspense B movie, with obvious references to Speed and Die Hard (the bests !)
There is some Japanese news crime inspiration as well (the Aum sect), lots of bullets in the air, explosions (very well done street explosions!) and violence.
Recommended, if you like action movies not too pretentious. This one is a little gem (I said it before!)

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 10/31/2000
Summary: Stunt-Filled Emotional Void

Bruce Law does a bang up job with the stunts in his directorial debut "Extreme Crisis." His name is plastered all over the place as director and stunt coordinator. The movie is filled with wall-to-wall action, but the actors are left hanging without any character development. Since the characters are so sketchy, the audience doesn't have enough emotional involvement with the film to really care about what happens. There is no tension or build up, which leaves the stunts feeling sterile and unengaging, although well-executed.

Without any real characters to focus on, we are left with a film that is a hollow and mindless excuse for one action scene after another.

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 08/22/2000
Summary: ipkevin is right

yeah, I remember this movie when it came out the first time as "The Rock" and "Die Hard". Pure and total crap.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 07/20/2000
Summary: Low expectations made this entertaining garbage.

Don't get me wrong, Extreme Crisis is a bad movie, with a very "American" approach to action scenes; that is, instead of 4-6 lengthy action scenes throughout, as in the "good old days," you get an explosion or two bad guys dying every ten or fifteen minutes. Most of the English dialogue and delivery is totally stilted and unnatural, though the Japanese villain does well enough. Hsu Chi's character serves no purpose at all, other than to drive a car while Cheung Chi-Lam jumps from it. Teresa Lee is nearly as wasted. As everyone mentions, the score is lousy, basically repeating the same faux-bombastic theme throughout. On the other hand, the effects are really pretty good, and hold their own with 2000's crop of US-wannabes. The action is fairly well-done, and very excessive and violent; unfortunately, probably 5-10 times as many innocents are killed as villains, and that's not much fun. Sometimes, though, the callous lack of regard for human life on display can only be laughed at, as in the following exchange:

Villain: Give me back my gun. Please give me back my gun.

Simpering underling: (Gives back gun)

Villain: (Shoots him)

Ha ha ha! Well, I guess you had to be there. But really, it's the laughs like this, on top of a handful of nice action bits, that make this at least fun to watch, if not a movie that I'd actually offer up as an example of what makes HK cinema great.

Reviewed by: ipkevin
Date: 01/16/2000
Summary: "The Rock" plus "Die Hard" minus Quality equals Extreme Crisis

Para-military Japanese cult wackos take over a Hong Kong TV station and threaten to detonate a chemical bomb in Hong Kong unless their imprisoned leader is released. Only a hard-nosed HK cop (Julian Cheng) and a disgraced Japanese SWAT commander can save the day. They're backed up by the HK cop's plucky reporter girlfriend (Hsu Chi) and a dedicated but untested policewoman (Theresa Lee).

Essentially, this sets the stage for the most shameless ripoff of "The Rock" that I've ever seen. Let's see if I can recount the 'homages': Opening scene with grim commander at cemetary recalling his fallen comrades, moody synthesizer music score (which copies the theme used in The Rock very closely), really choppy editing, over the top car chase near the beginning with several shots where the camera has been attached to the side of the car near the wheels, VX gas stored in green translucent globes, chemical lab scenes with similar protective suits, and an assault team getting massacred as they try to sneak into the building through a grate on the floor. Let's not even get into what they've ripped from Die Hard.

But it's not a big deal that director Bruce Law and co. ripped off The Rock. The problem is that it's SO badly done. The action scenes are plentiful and staged well enough, but are filmed and edited terribly. It's like they were trying to copy the Rock without really understanding how to effectively emulate the style. There are many critics who hate The Rock and the style of its director Michael Bay, but upon comparison to Extreme Crisis, even the most ardent Bay hater would have to admit the action in The Rock is far more exciting and better filmed than Extreme Crisis. It's surprising to hear that Bruce Law was involved with the action scenes in Jackie Chan's Thunderbolt, as those were quite well-done. If Law had stuck to that approach for Extreme Crisis, the action could have been great. And it does not help that the sound effects are very weak sounding. Louder and clearer sound effects would have helped a lot.

But the single greatest detriment to the enjoyment of this movie is the soundtrack. Even haters of The Rock will admit that the soundtrack was exciting and propelled the movie forward. In contrast, the soundtrack to Extreme Crisis actually helps kill the movie. Never quite exciting and never quite slow, it just drones on endlessly without any regard for what's happening onscreen. It also sounds terrible on its own, kind of repeating one or two bars from the The Rock over and over. Unbelievably bad.

The few moments the movie does shine is when it breaks away from copying The Rock and just creates its own action scenes. At these times, Extreme Crisis actually shows a little life. I can only imagine how the movie would've been had the creators had the guts to do their own interpretation of the story without constantly trying to copy other films. It might've been a heck of an action film. As it stands, it's not even a good ripoff.

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 11/21/1999
Summary: Extreme Crisis (1998)

From Literature, the title of 'Extreme Crisis', Project B, makes you get a correlation with Jackie CHAN's Project A is mid 80s. However, I would like to declare that there is NO relationship between both. The importantance of 'Extreme Crisis' is that it's the last movie produced by Leonard HO Koon-cheong, who has been the best working partner with Raymond CHOW Man-wai, passed away last year. From the advertisement, it's selling point is that it claims itself as 'The movie of the year with the highest density in action scenes'.

Before I evaluate whether the selling point statement is substaniate, let's take a look at the plot a bit. 'Concrdians', a Japanese Terrorist Group, come to HK for their action to save their Head. Ken WONG (Julian CHEUNG) is sent for investigation. During the process, they found that the terrorists is going to produce and explode the nerce gas -- Sarin to the Hong Kong territory to threaten the Police Force for release of their Head within 24 hours. Ken and Interpol Officer Takami (Kenya Sawada) is the two who can stop their action......

'Extreme Crisis' is a typical Hong Kong action movie. It may be true that it's 'The movie of the year with the highest density in action scenes'. The reason is that they puts lots of action scenes together into the movie. One of the reason behind is that it's the strengths of Bruce LAW. In fact, the explosions are spectacular and hence there are at least 5 of them prepared for you. Bruce Law can calcuate all the action scenes to make it enjoyable to audience.

Though the action scenes are taken well, audience consider the movie is not as exciting as they expected. One of the main reason is its poor music score. The music score totally failed to reflect the tone of the movie. Audience suppose the movie should be an exciting one and the music should be more exciting. The music score tried to tune down it which makes audience feeling uncomfortable with it. One of the reason for tuning down the tone is to reflect its negative feeling or underline meaning but they can do it in the plot instead of music.

Another problem of the movie is the sound. The poor music score covers the sounds of gun fights which audience are expected for. Though they would like to have a mixed up but they should do it in a more intelligent way.

In terms of the plot, some people considered it looks like a style of Bruce WILLIS's 'Die Hard'. Maybe. To me, it looks like the Japanese Terrorist Group which the head has been arrested by the police last year. The head looks like the one in real! The plot is a bit large in scale and it should be a movie for more than 110 minutes. Now they produce by cutting some of the elaborations. Their sacirfications is that you find that it's hard for you to be impressed. It's hard to understand why Teresa LEE is so scared with her gun, it's not enough to see how important of SHU Kei to Ken. If they can put more elaborations on it, I'm sure that they don't need to depend on the score expressing its negative meaning.

In terms of performance, it looks that Julian CHEUNG is okay but can be better if the plot gives him more opportunity. Lots of elaborations on Teresa's fear but it seems that she can make it more diversify in expressing her passion.

About the underline meaning, it's another movie about the situation of Hong Kong. It talks about the present problem which is hard to solve. I hope that the bomb of HK economic problem wouldn't be exploded, just like the movie.

In short, 'Extreme Crisis' is a movie with spectular action and explosions which are closely packed. Unfortunately, it's poor music scores affects the enjoyment. It's worth watching for the action and explosion but please get prepared its pitfall before watching