Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Operation Red Sea
Dante Lam is one of those directors that I like to categorize as being ALMOST great. He has a fantastic sense of action choreography, along with a passion for the genre (he was an actor and stunt man back in the day), but his film’s literally teeter on the edge of being good vs. bad. His biggest problem stems from the fact that he likes to make what I consider “propaganda” films for the so called “People’s Liberation Army” of China, so his movies are full of “ra ra ra!” patriotism for the Chinese military. Which is all well and good, IF he can make it a part of the story instead of making the story seem like a marketing piece for the Army. His “operation X” series is certainly more entertaining than his Wolf Warrior films, but Operation Red Sea suffers from a few flaws that were prevalent in Operation Mekong. Mainly an over bloated plot and the typical military propaganda that mainland Chinese films seem to be burdened with these days.
Much like Operation Mekong, Operation Red Sea was supposedly taken from a real life incident, and then blown up into a gigantic fireball of Dante Lam destruction for the actual film itself. He seems less intent on providing a real life depiction of the actual operation, but rather uses the incident as a stepping stone to create a series of high octane action sequences to fill out the 2 hour and 18 minute run time with. This time we’re dealing with an extraction mission from a country in upheaval, as well as a side mission to take possession of stolen “yellowcake” (uranium used in the makings of a dirty bomb). Much like Operation Mekong, we start out the film with a high powered sea pirate encounter where we ware introduced to the Jialong commando team and their near super powered abilities (slight sarcasm there). After one of their own is shot in combat, the team members have to accept their beloved sniper’s protege and a brand new mission.
The film segues over to an intrepid reporter (they all are in movies aren’t they?) who is researching a corruption scandal gone awry. However, the target of her investigation is also seemingly in the middle of a terrorist plot, as she has just received information about him transporting “yellowcake” to the Middle East. Which just so happens to be a country in upheaval and is the target of the Jiaolong commando team’s next mission. As the Jiaolong and their crack team of commandos make their way to the Middle East to extract a group of Chinese citizens trapped in the war zone, they are given an even MORE important mission when they meet up with our intrepid reporter. To find the yellowcake and keep it from becoming a nuclear weapon in the hands of the terrorist organization fueling the uprising.
Much of the fictionalized stuff really is a lot of fun, because the main purpose you or I are watching a Dante Lam film is to watch things get blown up, shot up, cut up, and basically beaten up every few minutes. On that front Dante delivers in spades. The man has a unique eye for action choreography, and he does a few overhead action shots (such as when the Chinese military is cut down by the terrorists enroute to extraction) that are REALLY neat to watch. Also his hand to hand combat scenes are magical. It’s not as much Kung Fu as traditional Chinese action flicks, but Lam knows his way around military weapons and does a great job showing off some really unique weapons as well. You can tell that the film was obviously meant for a 3D release, as Lam fits in tons of slow motion pop out effects (like bullets leaving the barrel and slowly ripping through the body as it travels into the foreground of the scene), but sadly the U.S.A. has to make due with the 2D only release.
Not Rated by the MPAA
• Original trailers
Operation Red Sea is a bit long, a bit over bloated on the plot points, but it is still a decently fun action movie. The characters are your typical over the top “ra ra go China!” stereotypes of a mainland Chinese film, but the action is high octane and well done, making up for some of the obvious flaws. Lam’s biggest issue comes in the form of pacing, as he has a difficult time turning Xia into a main character (she goes from damsel in distress to full on commando almost overnight), but once again, these are not insurmountable issues in the film. The biggest thumbs up I can say is that Lam introduces semblances of character development and emotional resonance with the Jiaolong team, something which he had NONE of in Operation Mekong, and it really makes the film a little bit better than it’s predecessor (if only by degrees). The Blu-ray is excellent to look at, and features a demo worthy DTS:X track, but the usual dab of extras is a bit disappointing. Recommended as a decent watch.
Starring: Yi Zhang, Johnny Huang, Hai-Qing
Directed by: Dante Lam
Written by: Ji Feng
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Mandarin: DTS:X, Mandarin DTS Headphone:X, Mandarin DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, Mandarin (Simplified)
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 138 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 24th, 2018
Recommendation: Decent Watch