Movie Review: Firestorm (2013 HK film)

Andy Lau in Firestorm movie still

Andy Lau’s compelling performance of a strict cop with moral dilemmas in the promising premise of ‘Firestorm’ is spoilt by bloated action and poor ending

Verdict: “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” It’s almost like as though the purpose of the plot of Firestorm is to define the meaning of that quote from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). The film is a play of emotional powerhouse led by a great performance by Andy Lau, Gordon Lam Ka Tung and the rest of the main cast, but it’s let down by underdeveloped characters, strange illogical scenes and its bloated finale of heavy firearm exchanges, where the director-writer Alan Yuen goes to the extremes to showcase Hong Kong’s big budget improvement in CG effects (by Hong Kong’s standards) but fails to thrill and unnecessarily done to a point that it’s almost unintentionally hilarious. The movie’s “dark” closure is almost an obvious indication that Yuen was trying too hard to leave a deep impression.

Second opinion: My girlfriend’s a huge fan of Andy Lau’s looks but she didn’t like this film at all, saying that the story’s entirely pointless and the visual effects suck.

The strangest scene in Firestorm:

Firestorm 2013 movie still - Andy Lau fighting Gordon Lam Ka Tung meme

Lui Ming Chit (Andy Lau) is portrayed as a strict and determined policeman but that shouldn’t make him a stupid, irrational one. There’s a scene where Lui fights his old friend To Sing Pong (Gordon Lam), who’s now one of the robbery suspects he’s after, but for reasons unknown, he doesn’t pull down the cloth covering his face to expose his identity, even when his hand is on his face a couple of times during the fight. The chasing and scrambling between the two throw both out of the tall apartment building they’re in but are saved by a fence bridged by only antennas and clothes hangers between buildings. And they continue to brawl. I simply can’t understand why Lui would still attempt judo throws and suplexes in this situation, which would obviously cause them to fall for real (and predictably, that’s exactly what happens). It’s really a mystery to me why Alan Yuen did this scene the way he did.

Why I disliked the ending of Firestorm:

The insanely bloated gunfight finale between the robbers and entire army of police, by logic, should’ve finished earlier but the baddies seem to have unlimited ammos of machine guns and grenades, and the police seem to be too dumb to anticipate the kind of firepower these professional robbers would have. Perhaps the funniest part is when robber-turned-undercover To gets run over by a truck. Now, let’s put aside how unnecessary this is for the ending. Why in the world of realism would there still be a truck driving past that street when all that shit was happening nearby, with the ground exploding and the buildings falling apart and all? If this character really must die, I would’ve gotten Lui to kill To, just like how he kills the others unlawfully, instead of having the whole “I want to be a good guy again” cliche. And that, would’ve been a darker ending.

Malaysian censorship: Nothing seemed to be cut at all at the special screening at TGV 1 Utama.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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Firestorm movie poster Malaysia release starring Andy Lau
Chinese title: 风暴 (Fung Bou)
Language: Cantonese
Rated: 18
Genre: Action drama thriller
Running Time: 110 minutes
Director-writer: Alan Yuen
Cast: Andy Lau, Gordon Lam Ka Tung, Yao Chen, Hu Jun, Kenny Wong, Ray Lui, Oscar Leung, Michael Wong

Synopsis: A storm is heading to the city, and with it comes another occurrence so destructive, it vows to bring down everything it touches. A crew of seasoned criminals led by the notorious Nam (Hu Jun), armed with high-powered weapons, pulls off another smooth and violent armored car heist in broad daylight in a crowded street. Whoever tries to get in their way, they will show no mercy. This puts the police force to shame and humiliation. A hardboiled senior police inspector Lui (Andy Lau), hot on the trails of Nam and his tight crew, determines to put an end to this madness that causes the lives of innocent people. But he soon comes face to face with the cruel reality that the usual police tactics are too futile to send these armed thieves behind bars. Extreme crime requires extreme justice, even if it means crossing his moral line. Tou (Lam Ka Tung), an ex-con desperate to leave his criminal past behind, volunteers to be Lui’s snitch in exchange for a fresh start with her girlfriend Bing (Yao Chen). But little does he know what hellish situation he’s getting himself into. While Nam is putting together his next big score, the two colliding forces from both sides of the law, each at the top of their games, will soon face their archenemies. As Lui’s hunt heats up, their ultimate confrontation is about to take place on the streets. As the storm passes through and the dust settles, whoever survives can hardly cope with its horrifying aftermath.

Release date in Malaysia: December 12th 2013
Distributor / studios: Ram Entertainment & Rainfilm / (multiple)

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    1. erictys

      Why Andy so good in acting meh? He's handsome meh? didn't watch his movie SWITCH ? I didn't but it's flop everywhere with fans all mad until he apologized…huhuh…

    2. erictys

      Andy good acting meh? Handsome meh! Yucks! You didn't watch SWITCH meh? So bad that he need to apologized…..luckily didn't watch..well Firestorm is no difference…I'm still waiting for a good HK movies..but now I'm still skeptic at the pace HK movies going…I think it's heading to the longkang…dumping ground or to the toilets…hehehehe lol!!

  1. misterA

    your gf comment states that this movie is pointless.

    let me ask you some question

    are you a police?or being bad before but no body wanna give you a chance to turn back?

    this movie is awesome in the way..

    police duty is not easy- some of them kept chasing and tailing criminal until too pressured…

    some released pressure through gambling, some released their pressure through alcohol

    some even have marriage problem…

    police also human- well if becoming police is just a typical job, why some of them dedicated to it? because some police do hold the principal- devoting to the public……

    secondly, human got half is good, half is bad- some people just step just side to the bad side,
    it doesnt mean their forever will be gordan lam role bringing that he also can choose back to become a good- he just need a chance-

    the moment he run to the audi car(double signal)-
    truely he feel he got a second chance to turn back, and together with his love one…

    this scene is strong, and for those who had someone waiting for you…
    will truely understand, how wishing he wish to get into the car, and go to his lover..

    this movie definitely must be watched.

    1. Post

      First of all, no thanks for spoiling it for those who hasn't seen the movie.

      Why are you arguing with the second opinion instead of the main review? Maybe she felt it's pointless because the plot is nothing new? Or maybe she said it's pointless because of the ending, which is indeed pointless?

  2. misterA

    and the graphic and visual effect which your gf claimed sucks..

    in my personally, i salute and respect their team of visual effect..

    is getting better, and in terms of firing/and bombing it getting better…

    and some of them- even is d first time hk movie will show this kind of visual effect- a great improvement…

    and please take note- some of the visual effect requires 3D to watch it…

    tis is why this movie is d first 3D hk police movie…..

    please take note….

    1. Post

      No, it is not the first time HK has "this kind of visual effects", but it is perhaps the first time a HK movie has an excuse to blow up the city just to showcase that they could film such sequences (maybe 'cause they want to prove that they can do it like Hollywood's Avengers, Superman, Transformers, etc.). The point is that, why the heck do they even want to do it when it's unnecessary? It doesn't make the film better, it makes it… typically Hong Kong.

      Your statement on "some visual effects require 3D viewing" is one of the most funniest comment I've ever come across. Usually when a film's visual effects are not convincing in normal 2D viewings, watching it in 3D would only make the inferiority much more obvious. Besides, the film was converted in 3D, not filmed in 3D, so watching it in 3D probably wouldn't have impressed either one of us anyway. I hate the fact that the film's marketed as the first 3D HK police movie 'cause that's unfair to those who want to film it in 3D for real.

      So please take note, no films should be watched in 3D when the effects seen on normal format is already bad enough.

      And also, read the entire review, not just the second opinion.

  3. misterA

    so hate…dun watch…

    still saying colourless opinion..

    in fact you are only in judging in one sided…

    good luck to you in future…

    and if talking so good…be a producer, and film makers by your own..

    see how great are you….

    1. Post

      How is it that we're one-sided when you're the one who's defending the film blindly? As mentioned on the second opinion, my girlfriend's an Andy Lau fan and if she's really wanted to be bias, she would've said the movie's great regardless.

  4. misterA

    and argueing second review..

    because totally unaccepted…

    story pointless and visual effect sucks?


    it seems okay to us….
    only your gf problem…

    try to make your own visual effect…

    complaint complaint complaint…

    if this visual sucks..

    i doubt you can find any people can do better effect for you….

    take note…

    and good luck wif your one sided opinion….

    1. Post

      See, you're not putting up valid arguments. Just because I disliked a film, I have to prove that I'm better? So I guess you've never complained about anything at all? In your world, the government must be perfect, every restaurant you go to must be awesome, every security guard is awake on the their job. Cause' if you did, you must be a great politician, chef/restaurant manager and a dedicated security guard.

  5. misterA


    well, me myself felt the ending has a lot of and much for the audience to use their heart and own thoughts- it brings audience inner self thinking….

    maybe for those narrow minded a bit cant understand the ending the director wish to bring to the audience…

    and funniest comment?3D?hmmmph- before making any comment about this movie sucks in 3D…and doubtly how good the 3D will be added together with the film-

    try watch firestorm in 3D first…then only comment…

    dun simply comment without having watching it in 3D…


    it just make no sense for someone not yet watched it in 3D and yet comment it has worst visual…

    1. Post

      If you're well versed in English and my style of reviewing, you'd probably understand my review better. I didn't have a problem with the theme of the film, only the very ending where [spoiler] To gets ran over by a truck pointlessly as karma is not part of the story's theme [/spoiler].

      Nobody mentioned about "worst visuals", only you did. If you've watched enough movies in 3D and then again in normal viewing, you'd know, but evidently you didn't.

  6. misterA

    and i can ensure to those wondered /not yet watch this movie?
    please buy a ticket yourself..and judging it..

    trust me, you all will no regrets to watch this film..

    is a good movie…

    and audiences who watched together with me, same cinema, same hall..

    after the movie ending- mostly their comment-

    this film is unexpectedly good…

    is a good movie….

    1. Post

      So… I guess the real one who's giving "one-sided" opinions is you? Are you from the distributor or are you involved with the film in any way? Or maybe you're just a bigger fan of Andy Lau and Hong Kong films than us, to a point that you'd support their movies regardless of their flaws?

    2. Elwyn~!

      Bro, (I am guessing you are a bro because you are a MisterA) i think you are just not used to Tony's reviews. But like the title of this blog is, it is opinions. It is after all his own fucking opinion, and of course you have your own fucking opinion too.

      Now here is my opinion, why the fuck Andy Lam is like superman that could never die when grenades explodes in front of him or even when large explosions blow up right in his face, you can see him seconds later crawling with minor scratches like it didnt really faze him at all? Now this is my opinion, I did not go as deep as ahhh how police are human and they gamble and they drink but they are still super dedicated to the job. Fuck that shit. I wanted action and I got it.

      I say it has superb action, but thats because its like the few villains are like super villains who can't seem to get shot by like a hundred policemen but instead they could kill all the policemen so easily. I was amazed that there were so many swat team but no fucking sniper? Fuck with sniper can straight away kill all the stupid villains right? But nooooo, the policemen had to fucking go in rows right in front of the line of fire to get shot by villains not to mention with the grenade or missile (i suspect its just a grenade launcher) they just blow up herds of policemen like its no issue.

      Fuhhhh, of course, there be a lot of negative reviews and there be positive ones. It is after all how people view it.

      Now, what I wanted to see was the typhoon that never made its appearance. Fucking bullshit wei. And, how the fuck that mere small gas leak could cause such a major shit hole in the middle of the road. It defies many logics and science actually.

      But of course this is a movie, it is suppose to be exaggerated but hell this was like superbly done to a point it was unbelievable that no fucking idiot would be afraid to fight high up off the fucking ground stranded between two buildings. NO ONE IS THAT FUCKING BRAVE~!!!! And all I can think of was at that time was HOLY FUCKING SHIT~!!! THESE TWO HAVE FUCKING BALLS OF TITANIUM~!!!

      And then they had to fucking fall to the ground? And suffer like no damage? That is stupid insane because a normal human who just skateboard could have broken even a few ribs yet Andy and Gordan seems to just walk away from it like they have been blessed with superhuman healing like Wolverine maybe? BULL FUCKING SHIT WEI~!!

      I dunno what drugs are you on MisterA to be saying ohhh it is so deep and shit, but maybe I should get some of those things you got, I need to chill the fuck out during such movies too. They just make me go DAFUQ wayyyyy too many times.

      Remember MisterA, it is after all Tony's opinion and of course his gf's opinion.

      You want my opinion? Well, I wish I was super human like Andy surviving explosions after explosions like I am immortal.

  7. misterA

    haha…nice sharp comment here….
    i not a big fans of andy lau, or hong kong film..
    and not even distributor…
    but one thing- will never go to visit this site anymore…
    is just someone refused to admit his wrong…
    and only know turn around turn around- keep argue argue…if you wish to win so much
    yes- let you win..but i sure you are the one not yet watch d 3D(then comment d 3D is bad for firestorm)- well….think yourself again….
    so your world is..only you can critics people,if others people critics you…you will cant accept…
    so i see no point to visit here anymore…
    last and very least- only god knows…
    you love it or hate it..
    this movie got a lot of lovers..and audiences which will know how to enjoy…
    this movies is will be a hit…
    good luck so called movie reviewers….

    1. Post

      Hahaha, right, I won because you let me win, not because you've presented no valid arguments at all.

      You accuse us of saying things we didn't (maybe not intentional due to your poor literacy in English) and then you contradict your own words. You want me to admit I'm wrong but then you've said nothing to prove that you're right. To begin with, you've only argued mostly about the visuals and nothing else from the actual review. So I don't understand what's the big deal here, unless visual effects are more important than everything else to you. Even if that's the case, that only tells us how easily satisfied you are with movies.

      It doesn't even seem that you understand the difference between films that are converted to 3D and those that are shot in 3D, and then you accuse me of saying that the 3D is bad for Firestorm. I guess you think it's also my fault that the local distributor didn't manage to release the 3D format of the film too, right?

      I couldn't care less even if the movie breaks the box office records. Just because many idiots pay for something doesn't make that thing a good thing but clearly, you don't understand the meaning of that, and even if you do, you won't accept it, 'cause you are in the world that you said I'm in and you've proven it when you said "and argueing second review.. because totally unaccepted…"

      Knowing egoistic anonymous keyboard warriors, I'm pretty sure you'd come back just to see what I replied so in advance, thank you for your visit.

  8. benjamin vai

    Looking around at reviews and opinions on some of the latest movies and this is what I get?

    With almost no respect to whoever this MisterA and Movie buff, it's pretty clear you guys are a little too butthurt to even be typing on your keyboard now. It's best you just go to bed and save us some bandwidth aite?

    Looking at the pointless thread here ( gee… thanks for wasting my time, i know i know, my bad) But i can't help be wonder why are they so many haters or in a nicer manner " self righteous people in front of screen" bother to argue something like this.

    If A review doesn't strike a correct note in your harmonious brain then you might as well just scroll to the next one. If you are going to argue at least present a better debate about the movie instead of just praising the film at one end and bashing someone who was pretty clear that his opinion doesn't mean that it is how you think.

    If you are going to take this review and think that the rest of the world is going to agree with it then clearly your mind didn't realize that the internet is pretty much neutral in whatever stand point.

    IF you have any guts at all, i would much rather be talking to people that would at least put up their real display names instead of claiming yourselves as "anonymous" then MAYBE we can have a constructive discussion.

    You are free to disagree with what Tony Teh has to say about the movie but do realize that pointless and factless disagreements makes you look even dumber than you might already are.

  9. HenRy LeE

    This is not fair. Why is Tony Teh getting so many comments in his movie review when those reviewers in Rotten Tomatoes didn't get bashed in a silly way. Reason: It's a personal view, not your school report card… you can judge but keep it to yourself if you don't like it. Gonna skip this movie and go for The White Storm. Peace out!

  10. Post

    Sorry, I know some of you might be having fun with this whole pointless exchange of insults but I think it has gotten overboard and I had to remove the comments. We were arguing like little kids with an anonymous figure using our real names and faces, totally not worth it.

    @Movie buff, I've apologised to you even though I've no idea who you are or what I did to you that could make you hold a grudge so deep that even after more than 10 years and apparently doing very well in your life now, you still can't let go. We were school kids, we're now grownups, we all have our own lives. I was an asshole, maybe still am, maybe that's just how I want to entertain myself but I said I'm sorry and if you don't want to accept it, there's nothing more I am willing to do for you. I wouldn't want to meet you, and if you think I'm scared, well then, why shouldn't I be? I've no idea who you are. And at this point, I'd rather not know, 'cause I don't intend to live in the past, and I hope you'd feel the same way.

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