Monday, October 3, 2016

SPL 2: A Time of Consequences / 殺破狼II (2015)

Maui thai vs wu shu in new "SPL" film.

AKA Kill Zone 2

Written by Leung Lai-yin and Huang Yin
Produced by Wilson Yip, Paco Wong, Michael Selby, Ren Tue, Jeffrey Chan Wing-hung, Guo Xiong Cao, and Tong Choi-chi
Directed by Soi Cheung

In-name-only sequel to decade-old hot mess whose real merit was just how little (or evident) digital manipulation was used in choreographing the martial arts sequences; a much-welcomed near-event for an industry whose martial arts output by then almost felt married to CGI-laden warring state wuxia pictures.

The tardy follow-up begins with tangled possibilites: A strung-out undercover narcotics cop (Wu) from Hong Kong is thrown in a Thai prison [for life] after his cover is blown. Why? The prison is acting -- unbeknownst to even the guards -- as an organ trafficking marketplace and run by a Chinese warden (Zhang) who is linked to a Hong Kong crime boss (Louis Koo, in a welcomed turn). The kingpin himself is in need of a heart transplant and decidedly his estranged brother (Jun) is the perfect match.

But that's not all: Doctors have found a one-in-a-million bone marrow match for a young Thai girl dying of leukemia but he can't be contacted because he's the cop rotting in the aforementioned Thai prison. Who is his jailer? A good-hearted hack (Thai phenom Tony Jaa, making his Hong Kong cinema debut about a decade too late) who spends his days looking past just the corruption he witnesses with his own eyes involving his supervisor (Ken Lo) in order to keep his job and his nights taking care of -- you guessed it -- the dying girl who just so happens to be his daughter.

Obviously "SPL 2" is ludicrous from the word go but the filmmakers have crafted all the implausible happenstances in just a such way that hooks the audiences and gets them if not completely involved than at least interested enough to care about the plights of the characters.

You might call it entertaining; the first reel concludes on an elbows versus hands scrap between Jaa and Wu in a prison cell is of its tangential predecessor's ilk and really the highlight of the film.

From there time seems of no particular consequence as "SPL 2" becomes outright laborious in narrative and the action choreography decidedly directed by a man whose played way too many martial arts video games.

You can argue there are at least some good performances in "SPL: A Time of Consequences" -- and there are -- but you can just as easily argue the film doesn't really deserve them, either.

With Tony Jaa, Jacky Wu Jing, Simon Yam, Zhang Jin, Louis Koo, Ken Lo, Jun Kung, and Unda Kunteera Yhordcanng