Nov 22 14 2:41 PM

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Director Derek Kwok. Review: Chris Sawin.

Three firefighters from Pillar Point Station in Hong Kong, Sam (Nicholas Tse), Yip (Andy On), and Chill (Shawn Yue), go against protocol in an attempt to rescue stranded individuals trapped in a burning building. Chill takes the blame even though the three agreed to take credit for the incident together. A year later, it's Christmas Eve and Yip has become the Assistant Divisional Officer of the station while Sam is enjoying his last day with Pillar Point before being transferred.

An unstable septic tank behind a warehouse close to a conquered fire at the power station is noted as having a high temperature. While being near gas lines, the call is made to leave it be since the fire nearby was already put out. The fire that evolves from those conditions is one of the most uncontrollable occurrences Sam or anyone else at the station has ever seen. The forthcoming typhoon only makes matters worse. The disaster becomes a completely different beast altogether when power across the entire city of Hong Kong is compromised. A determination by these firefighters to effectively do their job becomes an uphill and practically impossible battle for survival.  

The thick smoke that develops in these fires that burn for too long make rescues all the more difficult; you can't see, breathing becomes impossible, and prolonged exposure results in death in a matter of minutes. "As the Light Goes Out" makes this point very clear in the opening credits as text describing these cautions rises up into the screen like smoke rising from a fire. There's a "Police Story" reference early on as well with a guest appearance from Jackie Chan for a firefighter recruitment ad that is a fun little cameo.

Sam spends way too much time allowing himself to be walked on by everybody. He feels guilty for allowing Chill to take the fall a year ago and typically doesn't fight for the opportunities that he should. Chill is more worried about taking care of his son Water (yes, that's his name), who is a complete brat and unappreciative of everything his father provides. Water changes his name in front of his classmates, seems to be calling all the shots in his parents relationship, complains about everything, and does nothing but make paper airplanes all day which conveniently becomes a plot device later on. Yip is so worried about being the cool boss who wears smelly cologne, schmoozes with higher ups, and tries to help out his friends that he's forgotten what it's like to fight actual fires.  

Other notable characters include an older, on the verge of retiring firefighter referred to as Major Pui (Simon Yam) who is attempting to give up smoking and is convinced he is still as agile as the young recruits. The Major is in competition with a 12 year firefighting veteran new to the station named Ocean (Hu Jun); a 42 year old who achieved a perfect score on his physical exam. The film spends a decent amount of time taking slight jabs at humor, which usually falls on the shoulders of these two characters. Unfortunately joking about how much beer you can drink and vying to come back for your helmet can only go so far.  

In the early stages of the film, the story seems to have a pretty solid grasp on fighting fires. The issues that lead to this massive explosion sound fairly logical and believable, but these realistic tendencies are slowly burned to ash as they make room for extreme melodrama and stiff acting. Stupid decisions and incompetency are introduced solely to fuel the flames of the film's overdramatic atmosphere. The fate of a certain character is so obvious that by the time it actually occurs you just want it to be done and over with. The smack talking kid who was so embarrassed of his father is of course singing a different tune once he needs to be saved after making the worst decision a dumb kid could possibly make during a class field trip. 

Sam goes through a ridiculous amount of bad luck and traumatic events in the film. Tragedy strikes for him early on, his relationship goes south, he doesn't want to transfer but is being forced to, and none of that covers what happens after he enters this explosive warehouse that has no exits. The most memorable scene of the film is one where Sam finally finds the beanbag in his pants and does something heroic. He shares a cigarette with fallen comrades as flour falls to the ground like snow. It's an incredible sequence that only lasts a handful of minutes, but something so small makes a bigger impression than anything else in the entire film.

"As the Light Goes Out" shows promise early on, but replaces any potential with cliché story points, flat characters, and utter predictability. The smoke in the film is obviously very computer generated, but actually works for the film depending on how you look at it. This smoke apparently clogs your senses, inhabits your insides, and encompasses your surroundings. If you look at it from that angle, then the smoke absolutely does its job effectively. "As the Light Goes Out" is unfortunately a disappointing disaster film effort despite its talented cast.


Last Edited By: Deljhp Nov 22 14 2:57 PM. Edited 2 times