A fantastic firefighter drama from Hong Kong master filmmaker Johnnie To, released in 1997.
A heroic tale on firefighters, with a touch on the Hong Kong handover at its underlying theme, Lifeline vividly captures the ferociousness of firestorm and places the audience at the hot spot. It also delves into the fireman's psyche: These audacious firefighters can march into disaster and risk their lives by saving others, yet would they have the equivalent courage to tackle their personal issues? The story revolves around a dutiful yet indifferent fireman (Lau Ching-wan) who strives to win back his valor and love against his strict superior (Alex Fong) and his doctor girlfriend (Carman Lee) respectively.
Lifeline is essentially in 2 parts. Part 1 lasts an hour. It follows the firefighters who are plagued by bad luck on their daily job, so much so they get known as "ill-fated jinxes".
Along with this you get side stories mainly for 3 of the characters to give them more depth. One of these stories involves a character reuniting with his daughter, who has been dubbed in a hilarious English voice that doesn't suit her at all.
Fire has never looked as scary. Or Beautiful.
Then part 2 is 45 minutes of the damnedest fire sequences that have ever been captured on film! As the crew get called to a rescue mission inside a factory. There is real tension and excitement here that few films could ever capture. On a budget the size of Hong Kong films, I have no idea how they managed to film these sequences as it's hard to think of a Hollywood film that looks this real and terrifying.
A brilliant Hong Kong classic. The first hour is fun and is needed to set it all up, but the last 45 minutes is the selling point and is a real triumph in film making. It needs to be seen to be believed.
As a side note. This version of the dvd has really fast subtitles. It was hard to keep up at points because it was moving so fast. And this comes from a guy who watches the majority of films subtitled. There was a re-release in 2006 and a blu ray last year, so I hope they have improved Subtitles.
#Lifeline #十萬火急 #JohnnieTo