Slicing its way into Australian cinemas this week is the long-awaited sequel to modern HK classic SPL (which arrived in 2005, a fact that’s definitely making this writer feel old). The first film, which starred Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Wu Jing and Simon Yam, felt like Hong Kong reclaiming its place at the forefront of martial arts cinema after a slow decline since the early ’90s. It was slick and simple action cinema, powered by HK’s formidable fight choreography (directed by Donnie Yen) and the confident performances of Yen, Hung and Wu, all three screen martial artists of many years’ experience.
Fast forward ten years and a sequel is finally here: SPL II: A Time For Consequences. Director Soi Cheang Pou-Soi (The Monkey King, Motorway) takes over the reins from Wilson Yip, and Wu Jing and Simon Yam return — but as new characters, since it looks like the film is a sequel in name only. Joining them are Zhang Jin (The Grandmaster), Louis Koo (Drug War) and Thai action star Tony Jaa (Ong Bak), a collaboration I’m hugely looking forward to seeing.
Like its predecessor, this film is an action thriller with its roots in HK’s rich vein of crime cinema: there are cops working undercover in gangs, arrests that go wrong, and bone-crunching confrontations.
Here’s a trailer:
SPL II arrives in cinemas nation-wide on July 30. See distributor Madman’s site for the film for more info and screening locations.