Special ID (Blu-ray Review)

Special ID - www.whysoblu.comThe cops can’t control him. The mob wants him dead. And time is running out. Donnie Yen is Detective Chen Zilong but the criminal underworld knows him as Dragon Chen, a dangerous but effective enforcer. When rivalries explode with the reappearance of an old enemy and a brutal murder, the Triads close ranks and unleash a series of executions with Chen at the top of the list. Undercover and under attack, he has no choice but to rely on a new partner (Jing Tian) and his knowledge of the streets to get out alive. It s the only chance he s got.


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The eternally young looking Donnie Yen has returned with his latest martial arts action packed film called Special ID – short for “Special Identity.” Yen is Dragon Chan, an undercover police officer who is trying to bring the underworld gangs down by any means necessary. This scenario leads to Chan being embedded into the criminal underworld as a gang leader himself. He must navigate his way through the gang life, which calls for killings, extortion, robbery, etc.

All goes well until the head of the most powerful gang in the city starts to kill other undercover agents, which may or may not lead up to Chan being discovered. Since Chan is close to bringing the Triads down but also close toeing discovered he is partnered up with the tenacious Fang Jing (Jing Tian) who also has a thing or two up her most impressive sleeves. The duo eventually team up and try to take down the criminal gangs once and for all that will culminate in the ultimate showdown between cops and criminals.

I’m not going to lie about having anticipated Special ID for several months. When I first saw the teaser trailer for Special ID I was blown away by how vicious the film looked. The action was ridiculously awesome and it seemed as if nothing would get held back. When I received the film for review I was excited to finally devour it. Well, I would say that my excitement was neutralized within the first 20 minutes. Special ID would not be what the trailers promised. In fact, it was far from what was alluded to.

Special ID is not played entirely on a serious note as some scenes of dialogue and exposition carry a light and comedic undertone to them. Some of the bad guys act like clowns for no apparent reason. Even Yen chews up the scenery every once in a while during certain exchanges. Not only that, and it’s my biggest complaint, is that the fight choreography is not up to snuff. I only learned of what they were going for during the  production making-of segment in the supplement section. Donnie Yen mentions that he wanted to choreograph the martial arts in Special ID as if he were choreographing a UFC/MMA type of event. That was his primary influence. He wanted the fights in Special ID to mimic the grittiness of real life MMA martial arts. I’m sad to say that it does not work. The finished effect is very anti-climatic and sloppy. There would be some great set ups for fights but everyone would just hold their punches and not telegraph or sell it enough. The fights were actually really dull.

Now there are some good things to be found in Special ID and that’s Jing Tian as Chan’s partner. She ‘s a little firecracker who can stand on her own when it comes to dispensing ass kickings. I should also mention that where the fight choreography fails in Special ID, the stunt work does not. There are some pretty neat car and rooftop chases, along with one chase  in particular, that involves a person scaling down a building as he shoots at police officers. The non-martial arts action seemed to be more consistent than the disappointing fights, in my opinion.

If you’re going into Special ID like I went into Special ID then you will most certainly be disappointed. If you check your expectations at the door then you should make it out relatively unscathed. I cannot recommend the film unless you are a die-hard Donnie Yen fan. He’s done better.


Special ID - www.whysoblu.com


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Special ID looks pretty damn good on Blu-ray. Contrast and sharpness levels look steady and sharp without looking over saturated with postproduction tweaks. It’s one of the stronger video presentations that I have seen recently from the Well Go USA catalog of Blu-rays.

Depth: The city and locations are also one of the main stars of Special ID and I could tell that they spent a fortune on a good second unit team, because the cityscapes look phenomenal and really pop out.

Black Levels: Speaking of cityscapes there are many instances where the film takes place at night and no crush was detected during those scenes.

Color Reproduction: Color levels were great and I never detected instances of banding.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones looked great as everyone had a sort of olive glow to them – a healthy tone.

Noise/Artifacts: I only detected a smattering of noise and few artifacts.


Special ID - www.whysoblu.com


Audio Format(s): Chinese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Chinese 2.0 (stereo), English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (dubbed), English 2.0 (stereo) (dubbed)

Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Special ID on Blu-ray sounds pretty fantastic. It is an action packed film and the lossless track does the content justice. It’s a near-reference presentation.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel keeps it slow and low and lets it go during some of the more extravagant action set pieces.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround presentation on Special ID is no slouch as the bullets and hits ricochet off of the walls and into your living room.

Dialogue Presentation: Dialogue levels are clean and clear and every syllable is perfectly placed in the center sound field.

Special ID - www.whysoblu.com



Special ID has only two extras and they are a short making of featurette and the theatrical trailer. They’re both presented in high definition.

  • Making Of (HD, 4:06) – I don’t really know what happened here but this looks to have been part of a bigger making of feature. It cuts off at around 4:05 and then the trailer plays.
  • Trailer (HD, 1:35) – The final theatrical trailer for Special ID and it’s presented in HD.


Special ID - www.whysoblu.com



In closing I would suggest tapering your expectations, because the best parts of Special ID were in the trailers. The film is insanely anti-climatic and that really bothered the hell out of me. The Blu-ray from Well Go USA is pretty spot-on in terms of technical specs but the obviously edited extras drag the overall score down. Live and let live I suppose.


Order Special ID on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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