(China - 2018)
Directed by Xiao Feng. Written by Chen Ping, Yang Hsin-Yu, Zhang Hongyi, Yushi Wu, Xiaoqi Li and Qiao Wa. Cast: Bruce Willis, Ye Liu, Rumer Willis, Seung-Heon Song, William Chan, Wei Fan, Nicholas Tse, Bingbing Fan, Chen Daoming, Adrien Brody, Lei Jia, Gang Wu, Su Ma, Yongli Che, Yuanzheng Feng, Le Geng, Ning Chang, Simon Yam. (R, 96 mins)
Shot in 2015 and initially known as both the prophetically self-fulfilling THE BOMBING and later as the more inspirational UNBREAKABLE SPIRIT, with a price tag reported to be anywhere between $65-$90 million, this mega-budget Chinese government-funded epic has been hacked down by about 25 minutes for its straight-to-VOD US release under the generic, Redbox-ready title AIR STRIKE. Embarrassingly cheap-looking despite being the most expensive Chinese film ever made at the time it went into production (it was also shot in 3-D, but that was scrapped during post), with aerial dogfight sequences and visual effects that recall the kinds of computer animation that looked dated in the 1990s, AIR STRIKE looks like INCHON if remade by The Asylum. The making of the film seems far more interesting than anything that ended up onscreen, a jumbled hodgepodge of characters and events taking place in 1939 during the Second Sino-Japanese War, where Japan launched near-constant bombing raids that decimated Chongqing. There's three different storylines, with characters sometimes intersecting and ending up in places and you have no idea how they got there (the Chinese characters are badly dubbed in English, while the Japanese villains get subtitles). There's former pilot Xue Gangtou (Ye Liu), injured on a mission and reassigned to military intelligence, where he's to ensure that a truck with a secret McGuffin cargo must gets to Chongqing, complete with a half-assed WAGES OF FEAR crossing over a precarious bridge. There's a team of fighter pilots overseen by constipated-looking US military adviser Col. Jack Johnson (top-billed export value Bruce Willis), who barks orders and has to whip them into shape. And there's tons of gratuitous mahjong at a local bar.
It's worth pointing out that the shots of Bruce Willis
above AND below come from the SAME scene.
|Adrian Brody pleading with his
agent to get him in a better movie.
|AIR STRIKE director Xiao Feng on the set with "consultant" Mel Gibson.