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TIFF 2015 Movie Review: SPL II: A Time for Consequences

No one does action quite like the South-East Asian market, and thank goodness they keep making them! Hollywood has tried to catch up, even by cheating and hiring actors like Jackie Chan to play roles in their films, but they can never quite duplicate the kinetic energy.

That’s the best way to describe SPL II: A Time for Consequences, it’s very kinetic. With only two more films left for me to watch and review at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, this has turned into the film to beat (and possibly only because I sadly missed out on Hardcore).

SPL II is a sequel in name only to the Wilson Yip directed original who boards this film as a producer. The follow up is directed by Soi Cheang Pou-soi and the only prominent actor to return for the second film is Wu Jing, playing the lead role this time around as Kit, an undercover detective tracking a human organ trafficking syndicate run by Hung (Louis Koo Tin-lok).

Hung himself requires a heart transplant, but because of his rare blood-type, only his brother Bill (Jun Kung) has a compatible heart. When Kit’s cover is blown during a sting to save Bill, Kit is thrown into a Thai jail overseen by the sharp dressed and corrupt warden Ko (Max Zhang Jin) who Hung has in his back pocket.

Complicating matters, prison guard Chai’s (Tony Jaa) daughter is suffering from leukaemia and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. Meanwhile, Kit’s uncle and detective Wah (Simon Yam Tat-wah) has an unconscious Bill under police protection, which Hung is willing to exchange for Kit’s release.

The film hops countries, and with a revolving narrative of at least four interconnected and opposing plot threads in at least four different languages, it holds up surprisingly well. But where this film really shines is where you want it to: the fights scenes, and they are spectacular! Each one masterfully shot and with a different tone and setting which keeps each set piece interesting.

There’s a wonderful prison riot scene where several fights are going on simultaneously during the security breach. The stars do a fantastic job with the fight choreography, while both Jaa and Jing bring a lot of emotional resonance to their characters.

SPL II does feature some clunky narrative stumbling blocks such as the worlds most accurate universal translator phone app and an iPhone that can work after being submerged in the ocean. There’s also an incredible amount of coincidence that permeates the film (and a terrible CGI wolf) but none of that really takes away from the film on the whole.

4 out of 5 stars.

Image: 1618 Action Ltd.

Here’s the trailer: