Hong Kong filmmaker Ringo Lam's action bona fides are unquestioned, and after a long break out of the director's chair, he's thrown himself back into his signature genre with guns blazing and cars careening. Last year's aptly titled "Wild City" has been followed up with "Sky on Fire," a title perhaps meant to evoke Lam's most celebrated movie, the 1987 cool-crime opus "City on Fire."
But this new entry, written by Lam, is mostly a junky mess, zigzagging haphazardly from the heist of a revolutionary cure-all from a high-rise medical facility called Sky One, to sentimental scenes featuring a young cancer patient (Amber Kuo), to the tit-for-tat violence between Sky One's ruthless research head (Fan Guangyao) and, well, everyone else in the movie. His victims/nemeses include his head of security (Daniel Wu, from AMC's "Into the Badlands," the closest thing here to a hero), the sick girl's venal brother (Joseph Chang) and even his own dutiful wife (Zhang Jingchu). Keeping up with the betrayals and shifting allegiances is more tedious than fun, while the simplistic moralizing about callous corporate greed, and the detours into tragedy, fall flat.
All that's left is Lam's operatic mayhem in cramped spaces — collision-friendly car pursuits in parking garages and busy streets, bullet-riddled showdowns in hallways — and an over-the-top finale that makes good on the title. "Sky on Fire" is certainly an adrenaline dose, but hardly a remedy for the action blahs.
In Mandarin with English subtitles
1 hour, 40 minutes