SPL 2: A Time for Consequences
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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★★★★★ review by sydney on Letterboxd
not only does this machine with thousands of working parts move effortlessly, but it doesn't even seem contradictory that half of it is philosiphizing about determining the inherent value of one human life over another and the other half is guys beating each other to death because it's fun to watch. i cried over both halves for different reasons. this is also, and i mean this with absolutely no disrespect, the world's greatest advertisement for the smartphone.
★★★★ review by matt lynch on Letterboxd
The little girl with leukemia, the prison guard on the take, the gang boss who needs a heart transplant, the detective reckless with his men's lives, and his man on the inside, destroyed by addiction and conflicted loyalty. All of these are literally or figuratively parts of bodies in open revolt against themselves, every system is in some way corrupted. Not that this gets weighed down by subtext...never once does it forget that bodies are also weapons, and it spares very few ways for them to smash, shred, and puncture each other, piling one bonkers setpiece on top of another, with a lithe, floating camera disrupted with quick but deliberate cuts and blisteringly fast choreography. One of the best HK action films in ages.
★★★★½ review by Filipe Furtado on Letterboxd
The evil that men do. Give it to Soi Cheang to make a film featuring Tony Jaa and Wu Jing, probably the two most graceful martial artists working today, to feel this ugly. As I mentioned in previous opportunities Cheang is a former horror director who went mainstream but never quite left the genre, if Motorway was a slasher film with cars, this one goes to essence of fighting scenes - the destruction of bodies - and build the film from inside it. The first hour, mostly a length set-up, gives body to this idea thematically, while the second hour just gives release to it one gorgeous shot brutal set-piece at time. Simon Yam plays a dog in one scene and that is not the most literal moment in the whole movie, also Louis Koo creepy villain manages to come off absolute innefectual and even more haunting for being so. The plot is overlabored for sure, but it is there to give weight to this idea that action genre is about men destroying other men while being literally driven by blood. Also, only Cheang could come up in the climax with the most literal representation of heroic bloodshed meaning ever put on film. But beyond all else I'm just very happy Wu Jing finally, after over a decade in movies, found one that is worth his talents.
★★★★½ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd
The two most physically-gifted martial arts actors of their generation (Wu Jing and Tony Jaa) vs. Zhang Jin, who was Zhang Ziyi's stunt double in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Also: Soi Cheang getting metaphysical, Simon Yam being old and tenacious and Louis Koo physically disintegrating, again. One of the top three or so martial arts films of the decade thus far.
Coming up on the next episode of The Frances Farmer Show.
★★★½ review by Sean Gilman on Letterboxd
One aspect of 2010s Hong Kong cinema that I'm particularly enjoying is the repeated and obsessive destruction and piecemeal deconstruction of Louis Koo's body. That side of him as a performer was always there (see for example Love for All Seasons or Throwdown), but the Overheard series really kicked his disintegration into high gear. Here, his lifelong organic failures drive the demented scheme of the plot, drawing together the various characters in a web of (meta)physical connections.
Also, why did it take so long to get Tony Jaa in a Hong Kong film? He has more lines here than in all the Thai films I've seen him in put together. He can actually act, more or less.
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