Extreme Crisis (1998)
Reviewed by: ipkevin on 2000-01-16
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.