Macau/Hong Kong 2005
Director: Wilson Yip
SPL is a strange hybrid film: part cop drama, part martial arts action, part Kitano-esque reflection on violence. The film is a bit unfocused at times, clunky dramatic moments built around violent action sequences (directed by Donnie Yen). Some of the acting is pretty poor, as well; for instance, one character’s death grimace is comically contorted. That said, the stunning action sequences overshadow the film’s weaker moments, making for an exciting and memorable film.
The morality in the film is surprisingly complex. The villain is more than a twisted gangster and the cops are more than squeaky-clean crusaders. This aspect helps to raise the film above standard gangster fare.
I’m mostly used to seeing Sammo Hung as Jackie Chan’s bumbling sidekick, often as the comic relief. In SPL, however, he’s in full-on villian mode, presenting a commanding on-screen figure. There are two fight sequences that really show off his power and skill.
Donnie Yen’s equally as impressive, serving both as star and ‘action sequence director.’ Minimal wirework, old-school martial arts mixed with cop action works surprisingly well.
While not the revolution in HK filmmaking that many people see it as, SPL is entertaining and (somewhat) thought-provoking, worth seeing for any fan of the genre.Colin Le Sueur