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  Kill Zone 2 Fighting Chance
Year: 2015
Director: Cheang Pou-Soi
Stars: Tony Jaa, Wu Jing, Simon Yam, Zhang Jin, Louis Koo, Ken Lo, Kung Jun, Dominic Lam, Babyjohn Choi, Al Wai, Philip Keung, Andrew Ng, Aaron Chow, Alex Mai, Kiki Yeung
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Organ trafficking has become a major problem in Eastern Asia recently, with reports of many of the over six hundred disappearances in Hong Kong, for example, blamed on the criminals whop kidnap their victims and harvest the organs from them. It doesn't matter to these ne'erdowells who they take, it could be a pregnant woman for all they care, as long as they get their profits in the bank, and one of the masterminds behind such activities is Mun-Gong Hung (Louis Koo), who has a personal motive for carrying out this syndicate of medical exploiters, for he needs a heart transplant himself or he will die. The trouble is finding a suitable donor, as Thai cop Chatchai (Tony Jaa) knows all too well: his eight-year-old daughter Sa needs a bone marrow transplant desperately...

In a mixture of sentimentality over little kids and bone-crunching action, Kill Zone 2 was evidently keen to support comparisons between this and John Woo's Hard Boiled of a couple of decades before, but what it wasn't really was a sequel to SPL: Kill Zone, as it featured none of the same characters and indeed a completely different plot to what it was sharing a title with. The motives behind it posting itself as part of the same "universe" (to use that catchword) as the Donnie Yen vehicle that had enraptured kung fu fans with its high octane stunts and combat were presumably financial, as if you had enjoyed that previous effort (it had been a major success in Asia) then you were encouraged to feel the same way about this.

Fair enough, there were similarities in its keenness to satisfy the martial arts fans, though it did hamstring itself with a series of plot coincidences and revelations that strained credibility if you were approaching it from a sensible frame of mind. On the other hand, that could lend itself to some outrageous twists and setpieces, which was precisely what director Cheang Pou-Soi threw himself and his cast into with wild abandon, meaning you were as likely to be laughing out loud at its latest attempt to up the stakes and keep the narrative powering along as you would be energised by those sequences where fisticuffs were brought into play. If you liked at least some grounding in reality for your action flicks, this was probably not for you.

However, there was a curious sense that the film was trying to make a serious point about both donors and organ traffickers that it didn't quite land, no matter how sincere and anguished poor old Tony Jaa looked as his life crumbles around him. The chief aspect here that would have you potentially rolling your eyes was that the only person who could donate marrow to his daughter was an undercover cop, Chi-Kit Chan, played by Wu Jing, himself a star of the martial arts scene making the teaming up of him and Jaa a mouthwatering prospect for many fans. However, Kit has been so embroiled with his work that he is having difficulty keeping his head straight, not least because he has had to become a drug addict to stay unsuspected, and he must claw back his self-respect as he is dumped in a Thai jail.

A Thai jail that wouldn't you know it, Chatchai has recently taken a job in to raise more funds for the moppet's treatment, so naturally he and Kit encounter one another and using their phone app to translate (mobile technology being integral to the outcome) realise that their need for help is mutual. Up until that point, it was a shade too easy to watch Kill Zone 2 on autopilot, but then something occurs that will have you sitting up on the edge of your seat as an outrageous prison riot breaks out which sees Jaa and Jing battle their way through a mass of bodies in motion, all to get a decent signal on their phone. If that sounds absurd, it plays like a dream, and Cheang thumbed his nose at those who complain about fast cutting in action scenes by staging this as one continuous take, albeit assisted by editing techniques. The climactic showdown was well worth waiting for as well, a two against one melee that ends in a moment so drastic that the actual conclusion seems like a fantasy when you cannot see how anyone could have escaped from it alive. True, this was a bit of a mess as far as coherence went, but stick with it and you would get the gist, your patience amply rewarded. Music by Ken Chan and Kwong Wing Chan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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