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February 21, 2017

Cold War II


Hon Zin 2
Longman Leung and Sunny Luk - 2016
Well Go USA Entertainment BD Region A

There the small hurdle of watching a sequel that was filmed four years after the first film, taking place about year after the first Cold War left off. Essentially, Joe Lee, a member of a gang of corrupt cops, is imprisoned by police commissioner Sean Lau. Lee is the son of a rival police commissioner, who was to gained political favor had the son's shenanigans not been exposed. In the meantime, Lau's family is threatened by an unknown person seeking Joe Lee's release.

Visually, much of Cold War ii is about Hong Kong as a tiny city-state where space is limited. There is an abstract quality with the very tall, steel and glass, skyscrapers where the more cerebral parts of the film take place, with discussions of power, politics and corruption. There are also frequent overhead shots of the various lines designating traffic lanes. At one point, the abstraction goes further when Leung and Luk cut between Aaron Kwok and Chow Yun-fat diagraming their theories. It is also telling that the three main action set-pieces take place in enclosed spaces - a subway station, a tunnel, and in a junk yard lined with stacks of abandoned cars.

The rivalry between Lau and former commissioner, M. B. Lee, father of Joe Lee, has escalated, with senior legislator caught in the middle. Aaron Kwok, as Lau, is the star with the bulk of action scenes, while Tony Leung Ka-fai as Lee, and Chow as the legislator Kan rely primarily on a dialogue hiding their respective agendas. Unsurprisingly, Tony Leung has been nominated by Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards, having set aside any hint that he was formerly a romantic lead, now with his closed cropped hair, playing a man with a very muddled moral code. It also struck me that Eddie Peng, playing Joe Lee, may be erroneously groomed to be an action hero as indicated in the past films he has starred in, when he seems much stronger here as antagonistic punk, and might be better served in more anti-hero roles.

Of the supplements, the most interesting is the one discussing the action set-pieces. The most elaborate of these is the scene in the tunnel, with a multiple car crash followed by Aaron Kwok shooting it out with a gang of bad guys. Unlike the scenes shots in a real subway station and junk yard, what takes place in the tunnel is a very convincing integration of green screen, practical and computer generated effects. What I also find interesting about Cold War II is that it seems to be part of a more pronounced trend of Hong Kong action movies supported by the deeper pockets of the mainland China film industry. Also, of no surprise especially to those who saw the first Cold War is that the ending of this new film opens the door for another sequel.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at February 21, 2017 07:23 AM