sort of an “in name only,” like the kind they often crank out in Bollywood,
except Simon Yam almost reprises his hardboiled detective character. In the
first S.P.L., he played hard-charging
Inspector Chan Kwok-chung, whereas this time around he is steely copper Chan
Kwok-wah. They are not same person. In fact, they do not even serve on the same
police force, considering the first S.P.L.,
or Kill Zone as it was renamed for
Western territories, took place before the HK handover. Regardless, each Chan
is all in favor of taking the fight to the bad guys and he will have two highly
trained allies in Soi Cheang’s Kill Zone
which opens this Friday in New York.
Chan is no less driven than his near namesake, but he is also a man of Christian
faith. It is quite upsetting for him to see his nephew Chan Chi-kit hooked on
smack, but that is one of the perils of undercover work. Under his uncle’s
personal supervision, Chi-kit infiltrated an organ trafficking ring, led by
Hung Mun-gong a rich weirdo with a bad ticker and a rare blood type. Despite
his misgivings Kwok-wah must leave Chi-kit in the field, because he has finally
been assigned to an abduction team. The target will be Hung’s own brother.
to the intervention of uncle and nephew, the HK police stymy the attempted
kidnapping, but Chi-kit’s cover is blown in the process. He will get an
up-close-and-personal look at their operation when he comes to in the Thai
prison secretly holding the abduction victims waiting to be harvested. Inconveniently,
Chi-kit is being housed and treated like a common criminal. However, he will
have some dealings with Chatchai, an honest prison guard, whose young daughter
desperately needs a bone barrow transplant. The crooked warden Ko Chun might
have a potential (involuntary) donor for him, but the cost will be his soul.
is hard to say which is more extreme, action director Li Chung Chi’s intense martial
arts sequences featuring Tony Jaa, Wu Jing (also returning from Kill Zone 1, but in a vastly different
role), and Zhang Jin (who had the climatic fight with Zhang Ziyi in The Grandmaster), or the nakedly
manipulative subplot involving Chatchai’s cute but sickly daughter Sa.
Fortunately, the former are spectacularly cinematic and satisfyingly gritty,
because the melodrama of the latter gets pretty cheap. Still, it should be
conceded Unda Kunteera Thordchanng is highly charismatic and duly heart-rending
as Sa. She is effective, but most viewers will instantly resent the scenes
built around her.
there is a massive prison riot right smack dab in the middle of KZ2, giving Jaa, Wu, and Zhang ample
opportunity to demonstrate their skills. Frankly, this could very well be Zhang’s
breakout film, albeit in the villainous role of Ko Chun. It is pretty awesome
watching him go toe-to-toe with both Jaa and Wu. Of course Yam does his thing
as Chan Kwok-wah. He flashes some hardcore badness, but he can also deliver a
line like “you must have faith, God wouldn’t toy with us,” without it sounding
cheesy. Likewise, Louis Koo manages to pull off the shaggy dog pageboy wig and
the mumbling persona of Hung Mun-gong, one of the coldest fish bad guys you can
ever hope to see.
martial arts in Kill Zone 2 are
everything you could hope for, whereas the final conclusion is so weirdly
misconceived and utterly out of place, it becomes an attraction in itself (one
that makes you wonder how to say “wtf” in Thai). Recommended for martial arts connoisseurs
and fans of the big name cast (as usual, Yam never disappoints), Kill Zone 2 opens this Friday (5/13) in
New York, at the Metrograph.
Labels: Louis Koo, Martial arts cinema, Simon Yam, Tony Jaa, Wu Jing