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As the Light Goes Out

Aug 2014


Shawn Yue (left) and Nicholas Tse are all fired up for As the Light Goes Out

Up in flamesOutstanding effects burn up the screen without overshadowing the compelling human story ...of As the Light Goes Out, writes Connie Lai In 2010, Derek Kwok co-directed martial-arts comedy Gallants with Clement Cheng. He followed up by collaborating with Stephen Chow on Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. Both films received rave reviews and established Kwok as one of the hottest young talents in the Hong Kong film industry. In his latest production, As the Light Goes Out, explosive disaster sequences play out alongside a realistic human story. It is a challenging combination that Kwok pulls off with aplomb. The story revolves around three firefighters who have stuck together through thick and thin until a risky operation drives a wedge in their friendship. When a power-plant explosion knocks out the city’s electrical supply, however, the trio is forced to work as a team again and face the life-threatening mission together.As the Light Goes Out is very much a character-driven film, and the well-balanced cast delivers an in-depth and convincing portrayal of the firefighters’ personalities and emotional baggage. Kwok also succeeds in steering away from the mainstream disaster-flick formula. Instead of piling on the pyrotechnics, he relies on computer-generated effects to manipulate the shapes and movement of smoke, with the menacing forms serving as a fitting metaphor for fear and doubt.But these techniques do not detract from the realism of the blazes. More than 2,000 effects-heavy shots combine to create raging fires and life-like detonations that keep audiences on the edge of their seats, especially in the culminating dust explosion. This is infused with a tone of melancholy that manages to romanticise the entire story. It is a dramatically poignant climax that also exhibits the technical talents behind the film.