Director: Qunshu Gao
Starring: Yihong Duan, Wu Jing, Zhang Li, Guowei Ma, Dahong Ni, Francis Ng, Nan Yu, Yu Xia, Charlie Yeung
When contract killer Zhang Ning (Yu Xia) records an image of his benefactor after completing a high profile hit, he goes on the run, girlfriend (Charlie Yeung) in tow, to the Gobi desert. On his trail is a pair of skilled assassins led by Mai Gao (Francis Ng) and group of provincial police officers; Leopard (Duan Yihong), Knight (Wu Jing), Yak (Zhang Li), and Mastiff (Ni Dahong). As these three groups converge amongst the picturesque peaks and rocks of the Gobi, blood will be spilled and not everyone will make it out of the desert alive.
Despite being the obvious villain, Francis Ng brings to his character of Mai Gao a bit of honor. He’s calculating, skilled, and psychopathic, but oddly reliable enough to keep his word. As always he steals the show from the heroes. Duan Yihong gives a solid performance as Leopard, a cop a bit over his head, but still able to roll with the professionals making his job difficult. The rest of the supporting cast is good, though hardly exemplary. Charlie Yeung gives a bit of gravitas to her non-fighter character and her vulnerability is both realistic and natural. The inclusion of Wu Jing is nice but he is relegated to a supporting role with a couple decent if quick fight scenes. A bit of a waste in my opinion.
There is beautiful photography throughout the film; the Gobi is one of those places that when utilized in film, it can really take your breath away. The desolation helps the film to stay focused on the characters, and gives way to a number of run and gun chase sequences. The staging of the action is both intricate and imaginative, with tactics and jockeying for position being an important aspect of the conflict. It’s kind of unique in a Chinese language film but really well done. Just a minor gripe, but for some reason CGI in mainland Chinese films is just not up to snuff with Hong Kong’s. There isn’t even a lot of it in this film, and thankfully its use in the finale is limited, but why can’t convincing visual effects show up in a mainland film? I assume it is because they do everything in-house as opposed to sending it out. Well there’s always next time.
On the whole, the film is solidly action packed. With long and inventive action sequences, action director Nicky Li creates action that is reminiscent of classic American Westerns but infused with his brand of high octane HK experience. Darkly funny and shot extremely well, Wind Blast has a lot to offer for action fans. Where the film suffers is the inclusion of way too many characters and not enough time to develop them fully. This is odd because some undeveloped characters actually have long scenes but as the viewer you get limited investment into exactly ‘who’ these guys are. In general, the film is absolutely worth your time. Told in a genuinely mainland Chinese style, it features good solid gunplay and the finale is quite memorable.
You may like this film if you liked: The Good, Bad, and the Weird, Let the Bullets Fly, and Time and Tide
Special Thanks go to Well Go USA for providing a viewing copy!