SPL II: Time for Consequences 2015
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Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin / Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese / Synopsis: A Hong Kong cop named Kit busts a major gangster only to find his cover blown and his main witness gone. The gangster, in retaliation, has him kidnapped and put in a Thai jail with a false criminal identity. A lowly prison guard Chai with extraordinary fighting skills guards kit and prevents his escape from prison. The prison guard’s daughter suffers from a rare form of leukemia and Kit is the only donor who can save her. The prison guard discovers Kit’s real identity and helps him to escape in return for his agreeing to save his daughter. Together, Kit and Chai must face the gangster and his minions and take them down.
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Now that leads to the parts of the film which I think are pretty bad which are the martial arts. The film has approximately 30% martial art fight scenes. The problem with these scenes are pretty numerous in my opinion. One, there are few scenes with our two leads fighting each other or teaming up. Two, the stunt chorography is severely lacking. Considering the feats that both actors have accomplished in other movies we know they both can do so much more than this poor attempt of chorography is showing. The third problem I believe is where they train the camera. And the fourth problem is these large scale fight scenes. A great example of this (minor spoilers ahead) is when Wu Jing manages to grab a cell phone and he's running amongst the freed prisoners. The prisoners are fighting amongst themselves instead of trying to fight their way past the guards. Wu Jing is trying to get a signal amongst all the concrete with no windows and dodging and fighting Tony Jaa in spurts on the ground floor of the prison. While the camera is following the leads, the fighting prisoners, a SWAT team (all of whom are on the ground floor). While at the same time one of the villains is fighting on the second floor of the prison amongst a crowd of yet more prisoners. You literally lose sight of each character your supposed to follow at any given time in this scene and the fight scenes aren't worth watching to begin with.
And finally, amongst the many villains in this film only two (with a decent amount of screen time) actually know martial arts. One has a fondness for knives who is simply vicious. But to my mind this character is forgettable actually. Then there is character who is supposed to be Cambodian. I thought he did a pretty decent job of acting, but you don't see much of his skills in the prison. However, at the end of the film they do use tons of wire work on both him, Tony Jaa and Wu Jing.
So with that being said I think people watching this film excepting Tony Jaa to do a lot of what made him a name in his other films cannot be found here. Yes there's some of it in this film but not enough of it for me to recommend this film to folks who love his work. As for Wu Jing, I haven't seen tons of his films either. This is certainly not his best work either. And if your expecting to see him fight like he did in SPL: Kill Zone you'll be sadly disappointed. For films that better show his talents I would suggest SPL: Kill Zone if you haven't seen it already. There are fantastic fight scenes starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung and a couple of small scenes with Wu Jing. And for one probably lesser known film entitled, Fatal Contact. There are some fantastic fight scenes in there along with some great comedic scenes. But don't be fooled this film is not a comedy.
The movie itself has a couple of plots that intertwine nicely. Basically there is a criminal who has gotten rich abducting people and selling their body parts. He however has a problem. He needs a new heart himself. Only match however seems to be his brother. So his brother decides to get the heck outta there but in his brother isn’t impressed, sending his goon squad after him. The police intervene and prevent aforesaid goon squad from getting their hands on the aforesaid brother with the good heart. But he is wounded badly and is taken into hospital under police guard. Meanwhile a police officer who was undercover in the gang is found out due to his actions in the shoot-out. And the bad guys offer a swap, the undercover police officer for the brother of the crime gang boss. When the police bureaucracy says no, the undercover cops family/friends in the force abduct the crime boss’ brother to try to force a resolution.
Basically that’s the meat and potatoes. Along the way there are a few good shout outs and fight scenes. And some decent acting. Though not too much of it. The other main plot involves things on the Thai end of the equation (you see, to hide the undercover policeman he has been sent to a prison in Thailand run by an underling of the crime boss). This is where Tony Jaa comes into it. His character works as a prison guard and his daughter is in need of a bone marrow transplant. When the mates of the undercover policeman trace him to the prison it leads to a showdown between the two sides that is played out in a range of action sequences.
All up this is a nicely resolved film for the most part and Tony Jaa really surprised me. He usually features in movies with little more than ridiculously elongated fights that while spectacular in choreography leave all but the most indulgent viewer reaching for the fast forward button. In this movie he actually shows some acting chops. It can only be hoped he gets more such roles in the future.
Issues are of course the fact that a couple of the fight scenes do go on too long, people get slammed and don’t seem to flinch (some sort of weird invulnerability skill that most action films of this ilk seem obliged to include amongst at least one character) and the way the character of the undercover policeman and Tony Jaa are connected is way beyond the normal suspension of disbelief that should be required. But is actually very heart warming/rending at the same time.
Additionally there is a major plot hole included in the final resolution of the fate of the daughter of Tony Jaas’ character. But while it’s glaring it happens in what basically comprises the epilogue of the film so you can safely ignore it.
If you have a tolerance or a ‘thing’ for Chinese action movies this one should float your boat. A decent plot, some night shout-out sequences, some good fight scenes and even some decent acting. Good Sunday afternoon fodder.