SPL has some spectacular fight scenes in the second half but it really does take a while to get going. It’s worth watching for Sammo Hung’s great villain and Yen’s charisma/fighting skill.
Plot: A near retired cop and his unit are willing to put down a crime boss at all costs while dealing with a replacement inspector who is getting in their way. Meanwhile, the crime boss sends his top assassin to kill the cops.
Review: In the action community SPL AKA Kill Zone is very highly regarded and until recently I never understood why. I used to find it quite slow in the first half but upon watching it again recently I grew to appreciate just how fantastic it really is.
I liked the Father’s Day aspect to the story where all the characters are dealing with family relationships, even Sammo Hung’s mob boss. It did add a bit of depth to proceedings and made Hung seem more human rather than a cartoon villain.
I also need to add that the man is still stunning to watch on screen; his climactic fight with Donnie Yen is breathtaking and he still moves with amazing agility and speed, especially considering his size.
Story-wise it’s like several other movies and feels very familiar; it reminded me a bit of John Woo’s earlier work and the freeze frames were definitely Woo-esque. The dubbing was actually pretty decent for once with good voice actors, but if you can watch the subtitled version, I would always go for that.
Yen is unbelievably cool in this movie and it doesn’t really start until he is on screen. I must point out he has an awesome wardrobe too; his character Ma Kwun is a good cop who is always trying to do with right thing, but when he starts working with Chan Kwok-Chung (Simon Yam) things being to go a little pear shaped.
Chan Kwok-Chung has always tried to be a good cop and has spent years trying to bring down gangster Wong Po (Sammo Hung). He and his team eventually decide to edit a video tape where an undercover cop was killed, but made it look like Po was the perp. This all goes wrong very quickly and Kwun tries to help his fellow officers out as he understands why they did what they did.
When they brutally murder the real culprit, you know these men have gone down a dark path from which there is no return.
It’s in the last half an hour where the movie really kicks into gear with Donnie Yen proving he is one of the all-time great martial arts movie stars.
There are two stand out fights; the first with Yen vs. Jack (Wu Jing), but it was an incredible fight involving knives and batons. You almost have to watch it in slow motion to see it and there are no special effects or shaky cam used for it either.
The final fight is between Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung which was just outstanding and brutal. They are throwing each other through bars and tables; it’s two men desperately fighting for survival and is easily the highlight of the film.
Just when you think Yen has saved the day, we get a real curve ball which ends the movie on a real downer. I don’t want to say what happens in case you haven’t seen it, but I remember saying “Holy shit!” when it happened.
Overall, SPL has some spectacular fight scenes in the second half but it really does take a while to get going. It’s worth watching for Sammo Hung’s great villain and Yen’s charisma/fighting skill.