The dramatisation, nay exaggeration, of an event by filmmakers is nothing new. The Brits used to do it a lot, take a look at some of their war films, but it is Hollywood that leads the way as it pumps out, even to this day, bravado movies the likes of which only a few can stomach.
Well, not to be outdone, China has had a go at doing a dramatization of a real-life event with The Bravest, which is based on the Xingang Port Oil Spill of July 2010.
Writers Chao Wang (“Fantasia”, “Luxury Car”) and Yonggan Yu (“The Captain”) work with director Tony Chan (“Bride Wars”, “Hot Summer Days”) to bring this event to life. Except, they don’t.
Rather, what the writers have done is create a drama and story that would give the original TV series Dallas a run for its money, or any daytime soap opera you care to think of.
You do seriously expect all the firefighters to raise their fists and shout “we love China”, or similar, at some points. It’s hilariously bad, yet it’s also a touch scary, this movie has made over $245 million at the box office!
There is zero mention here of the sole firefighter that lost his life in the Xingang Port Oil Spill, the writers electing to kill off a few firefighters in the movie, for the hell of it, I guess.
They also, frequently, have the firefighters defy any sort of logic, in that heat, you know, that thing that comes with fire, doesn’t seem to affect them at all. Sure, the occasional hand might singe when it touches metal, but this is fire that is tearing through steel and concrete, yet the firefighters can stand in it, flames lapping at their feet and legs, just to salute each other.
There’s also no mention of the environmental impact the spill had, though this is perhaps less surprising given the Chinese government downplay the impact compared with what most other experts say actually occurred. Also, when you see the extent of the explosions and fire used in the movie, it is probably hard to say which of the two had more of an environmental impact.
And so, what you are left with, is a hugely exaggerated, ropey CGI, massively over-acted movie. About the only good thing I can say of it is that the director, Tony Chan, does manage to make it all look good, most of the time.
The shots of the flames, of the fire creeping towards the firemen, of the many, many, vast explosions, are nicely done. It’s a shame then that outside of that it mostly looks like a music video, the use of close-up, slow motion with bokeh used extensively.
At times, you wonder why China doesn’t produce more great films, and then you see things like this and realise just how far they have to go. But they will get there and sooner than any of us think.