SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (2015)

Plot summary (story synopsis): Undercover Hong Kong cop Kit (Jacky Wu Jing) has his cover blown and is illegally held at a Thai prison in retribution.

The prison is run by crooked warden Ko (Max Zhang Jin) who is beholden to bad guy Hung (Louis Koo). Coincidentally, honest prison guard Chai (Tony Jaa) has a sick daughter Sa (Unda Kunteera Thordchanng) whose only hope is a bone marrow transplant from Kit. Chai tries and fails to contact Kit, not realizing that Kit is right under his nose.

Hung has a weak heart and his only possible donor is his own brother Bill (Jun Hung). Hung kidnaps Bill to forcibly get a heart transplant.

Meanwhile, Kit briefly manages to telephone his uncle and fellow cop Wah (Simon Yam). Wah goes alone to Thailand to rescue Kit.


SPL 2 is your stereotypical melodramatic Hong Kong kung fu movie. Its plot is more complicated than normal but its melodrama is standard Hong Kong industrial strength.

Thankfully, the fight choreography by Li Chung-Chi is excellent and saves the movie. The fights are in classic Hong Kong style - way drawn out. But this is one of the rare movies where the long action sequences don't become boring. The fights are also never repetitive. There's speed and skill to the moves, not just simple punches and blocks. Tony Jaa fans will be pleased to see him fight more in SPL 2 than he did in Dolph Lundgren's Skin Trade.

And it's not just hand-to-hand. There's also a thrilling shootout at Hong Kong's cruise terminal. It takes some imagination to work out an exciting shootout scene and Li Chung-Chi manages to do it. Movie gunfights are as common as car chases so you can't just have some perfunctory bang bang action and expect to impress the audience. Another standout action scene is a large-scale prison riot, where it's not just the stars but also the dozens of extras that are fighting their hearts out.

However my favorite is a smaller scale duel between Kit and a nameless assassin (Zhang Chi) who is a knife expert. (An earlier scene where nameless assassin takes out a staircase full of cops is also excellent). Kit uses a tonfa (one of my favorite weapons, and one that is too rarely seen on screen) against the nameless assassin, but unfortunately only in reverse grip and like a club. Okay, maybe reverse grip makes sense against a knife because you want to increase your reach, but at least use the handle fork for some blocks or hooks.

Less forgivably, after dispatching the nameless assassin, he leaves his tonfa on the floor and goes on to fight the other bad guys. Not only are we deprived of more tonfa action, why would he leave such an effective weapon behind and proceed bare-handed? This is a symptom of the pervasive lack of smoothness in the storytelling.

The coincidence of Kit landing in a jail where the guard's daughter just happens to need his bone marrow transplant, is laughable. And not just the coincidence. Why would Kit even have himself tested to be a donor, especially when he is a drug-addict undercover cop?

And of course, the biggest kung fu movie trope of all - why so many skilled kung fu fighters? Especially Chai. He's just a prison guard. The movie doesn't even try to justify this.

So it's another wasted opportunity. With a more believable plot, SPL 2 could have been a great action movie. Instead, what we have is a bunch of cool fight scenes that are emotionally empty, because we don't really care for the characters, because we know that we are being manipulated by the movie and therefore refuse to suspend our disbelief. You want to do melodrama? Do it like John Wick. Keep it simple.

PS Another plus is the Thailand locations, which look beautifully gritty and authentic, especially the prison.

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