The original Fong Sai Yuk is a highly entertaining film. It features breathtaking action, interesting plotlines, and a lot of chemistry between Sai-Yuk Fong (Jet Li) and Mrs Fong, i.e. his mother (legendary actress Josephine Siao). Combining all these elements successfully is not an easy task, and it is therefore perhaps not surprising that the sequel doesn’t quite deliver the same kind of magic as the first film.
Fong Sai Yuk 2 picks up where the first movie left off. Sai-Yuk is now a member of the Red Flower Society. Early on in the movie, a monk warns Ka-Lok Chan (Adam Cheng), leader of the Society, that someone close to him is trying to harm him, while another person close to him will save him. This prediction turns out to be true. While the plot unfolds, a pretty girl called Man Yin (Amy Kwok, wife of top actor Ching-Wan Lau) appears and fights for the affection of Sai-Yuk, much to the disgust of Ting Ting (Michele Reis). Gradually, everyone’s attention turns to a ‘sacred box’, inside which hides an important secret, one that impacts on the whole kingdom…
Action is the strongest thing about this film, as it features many exciting and often complex fight scenes. Jet Li gets plenty of opportunities to show his martial arts skills. Every move is fast, accurate, and beautifully choreographed. Wirework, a technique developed and perfected by Hong Kong filmmakers over the years, features in many of these action scenes. These scenes illustrate how the effective use of wirework can turn good action scenes into great action scenes.
The story telling is a relatively weak part of the film. The script could have been a lot tighter, and the story isn’t as interesting as the one in the original film. Many of the jokes make reference to Hong Kong gangster culture, and do not translate well, ending up being not funny at all.
Jet Li shows his adorable boyish charm, while Josephine Siao again gives a wonderful performance as the mother of the young hero. While the chemistry between the son and mother is still present, there are just not enough scenes where they are seen together. This really weakens the film, as the interaction between these two characters is one of the best things about the first movie.
Fong Sai Yuk 2 turns out to be a bit of a disappointment for me. I did enjoy the film, but nowhere near as much as the first one. Despite this, I still wish that the filmmakers had made another Fong Sai Yuk film, because the characters are so likeable and I would really like to see more of their adventures. Also, in Fong Sai Yuk 2, viewers find out the secret inside the ‘sacred box’, and so many interesting plotlines can be developed from it. However, the chance of there being another Fong Sai Yuk film featuring the original cast is now quite remote. After all, it has been 14 years since Fong Sai Yuk 2 was released. Jet Li is getting older and probably wouldn’t be quite so convincing as the young hero any more, and Josephine Siao hasn’t acted in movies for years because of health reasons.
Finally, just an interesting observation that I made: All of the best Hong Kong films by Jet Li have the names of the main (i.e. Jet Li’s) characters as the Chinese titles of those films. These include the Once Upon a Time in China series (‘Wong Fei Hong’), the original Fong Sai Yuk, and the more recent Fearless (‘Huo Yuan Jia’). So, if you like Fong Sai Yuk 2, make sure you check those ones out as well.