Saat po long (S.P.L.) (Kill Zone) Reviews
The cast certainly helps to mantain the almost invisible plot here, Sammo Hung turns out as a very solid villian, Simon Yam is good as usual and Wu Jing (Jacky Wu/the guy with the knife) more or less steals the whole thing.
Recommended for action fans and HK aficionados. This is hardly the next Hard Boiled, or anything like that, but it's not a bad choice compaired with most american (and as i said already, HK) so called action films. Heck, i'm giving the 3 stars mostly based on that fight between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing, one of the most intense fight sequences i have seen since the hall fight in Oldboy (totally different style of course)
In this case, its a story of one police seargant's tirless battle against the crime kingpin who was responsible for killing his goddaughters parents. Driven by years of rage and frustration, he and his loyal squad finally decide to do anything to bring the gangster down, which ultimatley means crossing the fine line of police work into corruption in this war between worlds. But as the detective is on the verge of retirement, and his war seems all but lost, the new boss, a former street cop with a knack for violence and a moral consciene intervenes and also becomes entertwined in the dark war.
The keyword here is THRILLER - not action. Dont expect a Jackie Chan stunt fest every 5 minutes... this is a movie made with in the tradition of such thrillers like Infernal Affairs, New Police Story, The Corruptor and others.... though I would personally think SPL is much more classy and the action clearly is some of the best seen in a movie. And to top it off, veterans Donnie Yen, Simon Yam and HK legend Sammo Hung lead the way with a good cast, especially the psychotic killer in white.
Well, the most important thing: Action scenes. Some of the best ever. The climax fight scenes all star Donnie Yen, whom I think in martial arts ability matches the likes of Jet Li and Jackie - but Yen seems far more faster and skillfull - if you have seen Iron Monkey, then you would defintley have a new name added to your favourite martial arts stars. And Sammo Hung at old age still shows he's got the goods to whoop ass and plays the powerful gangster with an exuberance and protrays a very deadly character.
There are many scenes which show really good climaxes, from the beginning where Simon Yam and Sammo face off with golf clubs after batterring each others in their cars, to Donnie and Simon's confrontation with the 100 gangsters in the street, which really build up the tension and strength to the powerhouse ending fights.
Pretty nifty! And very bloody. The sound effects as knives enter the body and out..... woah! squish, and squash and blow flows....... graphic as hell. Marvelous!
Saat Po Long follows a near retired inspector and his unit who 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 plots a killing spree on them. The plot is dark, gritty, and maintains your interest while no one is fighting on screen. It has enough twists to not only keep the viewer engage with what happening on screen, but also prevents practicability. Although Wilson Yip does have some hiccup when telling a story, often time there are long dialogue scenes and few to little action scenes to fully justify it. While most of the dialogue driven scenes are done well, they do drag out creating an uneven pacing for a film of this genre. One major problem with the movie are the characters, while the cast do a terrific job in their roles the characters aren't worth caring about much. Some of them simply don't have enough development while some don't get enough screen time for their death to have any meaning. When it comes to action on the other hand, Wilson Yip knows what he's doing making sure the audience could see what's going on screen. The cast, like I said earlier, are terrific but Sammo Hung steals the show as the movie villain. He truly makes one of most memorable villain in the Martial Art genre while still being able to perform his fight scenes convincingly despite his old age. Donnie Yen is not bad himself and delivers on his fight scene with Sammo Hung.
Saat Po Long may not have memorable characters for the most part, but it does have a great plot and action to satisfy the viewers. Whether you like crime film or Martial Art film Saat Po Long is a movie that successfully combines the two for a great experience.
Director Wilson Yip puts together a great cast for this HK crime thriller, but manages to pull off a blunder in which characters are sloppily scattered with shallow backstories. Not only do we have a vague idea of what our leading man Detective Chan's (played by Simon Yam) true motivations are, but his fellow policemen are also given ridiculous sub-storylines (regarding Father's Day) to pathetically amp the dramatic tension that ends up futile. It is more or less a horrendous tactic for the extra-sentimental stringy score to come into play - an element that proves to be one of the film's consistent low points. Additionally, although the action scenes that surround Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung are terrific, the slow-motion crying and staring and overused camera push-ins become a bit excessive and even comedic.
With that said, where the film is supposed to excel (the action), it really does. The action is top-notch, and the choreography is crisp and exciting. Donnie Yen lives up to his name in serving as the action director, and puts forth two major fight sequences that (depending on the type of audience) redeems the film. The alleyway fight with Jacky Wu is a tense and fast-paced back-and-forth duel between two highly skilled weapon-wielding fighters. It features exciting camerawork within a very confined and interesting space, along with a pumped-up score and some impressive sound effects editing. Likewise, the final duel with Sammo Hung is a pleasure for martial arts fans. The fight spans multiple styles and involves throws and tosses and lots of acrobatic punches and kicks between two Hong Kong screen legends. In a way, it rewards its viewers for making it through the 93-min running time, and truly plays as if it has saved the best for last.
As a whole, KILL ZONE isn't quite there. But realistically, anyone who comes into this film already has a particular expectation that they hope to have fulfilled - an expectation that comes naturally given the Donnie Yen vs Sammo Hung billing. Yip provides exactly that, and so in this sense, the film succeeds.
A wonderfully layered police drama that sports some of the best martial arts I've seen in quite some time.
Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen and Simon Yam are amazing to watch and the final showdown between Hung and Yen is not to be missed.
The one blemish in this shiny presentation is the epilogue, which was equally confusing to the one in Battle Royale. It just seemed sudden and unnecessary... still, S.P.L. is one of the better Hong Kong crime flicks out there.