Starring Louis Koo, Lam Ka Tung, Wu Yue, Chris Collins, Tony Jaa. Gordon Lam, Hanna Chan. Directed by Wilson Yip. (2017/98 min).
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Review by Tiger Longtail😼
Paradox is the third film in Wilson Yip's "SPL" franchise. The first two are better known to American audiences as Kill Zone and Kill Zone 2. Not that it really matters because none of them are actually related to each other. Paradox features the return of Wilson Yip (Ip Man) to the director's chair after skipping the previous film.
Louis Koo, Wu Yue and Tony Jaa are also back, but as different characters. This time, Koo plays Lee, a widowed Hong Kong cop whose daughter goes missing when she visits Pattaya. He and the detective assigned to the case, Chui Kit (Wu Yue), suspect she's been abducted. Meanwhile, the mayor has a heart attack and needs a transplant, which is arranged by his assistant, Cheng (Gordon Lam), who enlists the services of Sacha (Chris Collins). Sasha run an organization that sells organs on the black market. And guess whose heart they want.
|"Thumbs up, buddy!" "Back at ya, bro!"|
Though thematically similar, Paradox is an all-around much better film than Kill Zone 2, which completely fell apart in the final act. Here, the story grabs the viewer right away and doesn't let go. This film trims the excess fat and breathlessly moves from one action sequence to the next, with a lot of violent gunplay, chases and, of course, close-quarters martial arts, the latter of which features some creatively-ambitious choreography.
|Louis Koo decides to dine & dash.|
Among the mayhem are interesting characters. It was a smart choice having Louis Koo play the protagonist this time. Always an intense physical actor, Koo also effectively balances the parental sensitivity and protectiveness his character requires while snapping some limbs along the way. Tony Jaa's character feels like a gratuitous shout-out to the last film, but Chui Kit makes a good "partner," whose own family becomes at-risk as they uncover the human traffickers. As for their foes...Paradox gives us some despicable bad guys that we can't wait to see die...as violently as possible (Chris makes Sacha a deliciously hateful bastard).
Paradox goes to some dark places in terms of tone and narrative, but that's also part of what makes it far more engrossing than its predecessors. Since the SPL films are all stand-alone stories anyway, there's no need for the viewer to bring themselves up-to-speed. Paradox is consistently intense, exciting and well-worth checking out by action fans.
4 MAKING OF FEATURETTES
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS