SKYFIRE (天火) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: Tianhuo Island is as beautiful as a paradise. It almost makes people forget that it is located in the "Ring of Fire" the world-famous Pacific Rim volcanic belt. The volcano erupted, and the fate of the people in the island was entangled.
Simon West who is known for helming mega action blockbusters such as Con Air and Tomb Raider followed the footsteps of Renny Harlin to venture to China to carve out another career opportunity. Skyfire marks his debut feature in the Chinese Kingdom after suffering a string of flops in Hollywood.
Starring Hannah Quinlivan or better known as Mrs Jay Chou and Wang Xueqi, the story of Skyfire can be roughly summarised as Jurassic World meets Volcano just minus the dinosaurs of course. Wang Xueqi’s Li Wen Tao is a volcanologist who lost his wife on a volcanic island named Tianhuo decades ago. Her daughter, Xiao Meng (now played by Quinlivan) has an estranged relationship with his father as a result. Hoping to make her late mother proud, Xiao Meng who grows up to be a volcanologist as well is now working as part of a hired crew on Tianhuo to investigate the now dormant volcano.
Because businessman Harris (Jason Isaacs) is too busy to catch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, he feels it’s a brilliant idea to build a luxury resort on Tianhuo which he proudly declared to potential investors is run on geothermal energy. Equipped with a state-of-the-art cable car system to bring guests to experience the picturesque view of the island and volcano, Harris is more interested to expand his resort than listening to experts that the volcano is going to erupt anytime. And we are pretty sure you know the drill.
Skyfire plays out liked a typical Hollywood blockbuster, lean on character development but generous on CGI and explosions. Once the larva starts spewing, the action goes full throttle as Xiao Meng and her gang has to get from one point to another across the island on a seemingly indestructible jeep. But before that, there is a somewhat thrilling cable car sequence mar by less than decent visual effects although frankly speaking, the effects on the whole are rather eye popping for a non-Hollywood title.
West and scriptwriter Bu Wei dishes out the minimum to keep the story moving to its expected finishing line. There is obviously the father-and-daughter story arc which veteran Wang Xueqi portrays a man who is out to take charge of things and making sure his only daughter is safe from danger. Then there is Shawn Dou’s Zhengnan, the hunky young man who can get everyone out of any sticky situation and a gung-ho Xiao Meng who has no qualms climbing out of a moving vehicle to remove some obstacle.
Skyfire is a standard disaster movie moulded in the same form as Volcano and Dante’s Peak. It boasts nothing except sprawling action sequences and a serviceable plotting. This is pure escapism courtesy of the Oriental. Another worthy fact, Jay Chou appears in the end credits singing the movie’s theme song. At least you know you know you are getting a bonus feature.
Review by Linus Tee