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July 19, 2016

Kill Zone 2

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SPL 2: A Time for Consequences / Saat po long 2
Soi Cheang - 2015
Well Go USA Entertainment BD Region A

Without providing spoilers, the supplements to Kill Zone 2 offer a couple of key bits that would be missed if you only see the film by itself. First, an explanation of the title - Wilson Yip, director of the first Kill Zone film, serving as director here, plans a series that is connected thematically but not with connected story lines. Second, a deleted scene explains the how the little girl we see drowning is the sister of the character played by Wu Jing (the actor also known as Jacky Wu).

The action shifts between Hong Kong and Thailand, with part of the film alternating events in those two countries taking place at the same time. There's a Hong Kong gangster who runs an illegal business kidnapping people for their organs, an undercover cop whose cover has been blown - trapped in a Thai prison, and the prison guard who is unaware that the prisoner who can't speak a word of Thai is the potential bone marrow donor who can save the life of the guard's little girl. Everything gets tied together, with bringing together the various plot strands. The only thing not explained is how a Chinese guy is the warden of a Thai prison.

Tony Jaa is the top billed star, but the best display of martial arts moves belongs to Zhang Jin. During a prison riot, Zhang, as the prison warden, surveys the action. Impeccably dressed in a black suit, he comes out fighting, briefly grabbing cell bars while moving sideways. Prisoners are on the receiving end of punches and high kicks. Zhang walks away without a bruise, his suit neither torn nor wrinkled. Zhang is so nattily dressed that he's like the Cary Grant of Hong Kong martial arts movies.

That prison riot provides one of the big set pieces of the film. Part of the actin takes place in the main cell block with an extended long take. The camera swoops from the upper level to the ground floor with reportedly two hundred men fighting, prisoners taking on the guards or simply doing what they can to tear up the joint. The camera darts around picking up the moves of the lead actors. Cheang later cuts to a couple of overhead shots, not quite Busby Berkeley.

This is a Hong Kong action film, and as such, keeps Tony Jaa earthbound. Not Jaa should needlessly put himself at risk, but his gravity defying abilities aren't on display here, which is a disappointment. Surely it can't only be Thai action choreographers who know how to make the most of Jaa's fancy footwork, even if at age 40, he might not be able to make the kind of moves as in Ong-Bak or Tom-Yum-Goong.

With the emphasis on fight scenes, Kill Zone 2 harkens back to Cheang's earlier films, Shamo and Dog Bite Dog. Bringing up Cheang's more recent association with Johnny To, frequent To star Simon Yam appears here, while Cheang also uses To's editor, David Richardson.

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Posted by peter at July 19, 2016 02:51 PM