Do you miss watching classic Hong Kong action type of films? Sha Po Lang, aka Killzone or more commonly known as SPL to many fanatics, is another type of throwback kind of movie which starts with an interesting melancholy bearing scene for good ten minutes. It is between a face-to-face meeting between a small girl whose parents are killed by a mob boss named Po (played by Sammo Hung).
Sha Po Lang or Killzone, directed by Wilson Yip, revolves around Inspector Chan (played by Simon Yam) who has been chasing Po, a mob boss, for a long time. On his way to escort a star witness together with his family, they crashed into another car, leaving only Chan and a little kid as survivors. Being a good man indeed, Chan is very determined in getting Po locked up behind the bars to give justice to the kid’s parents. He’s been continuously kind to everyone except Inspector Ma (played by Donnie Yen) who will soon take over Chan’s position after his retirement.
From good servicemen who honestly perform their duties, Chan and his fellow justice seekers eventually turned into undercover villains in service. Po, on the other hand, is not like the typical gang leader who forces his people in doing evil acts. He still manages to be a little humane as he exemplifies a dark and violent character boss who happens be too much greedy of his possessions. Soon, as he gets too irritated of the accusations, Po decided to give the police an all-out war.
Certainly, it was Simon Yam who made a big impact to the overall outcome of the movie. His outstanding character perfectly fits as an antagonist to Chan’s role of a good highly respected inspector, blinded with his determination to get him imprisoned or even killed. Costing the lives of Chan’s men, Chan came to realize that no good could come out of his undesirable intentions.
Most movie critics say that Sha Po Lang is a great revival of Hong Kong action cinema. Though SPL appears to be promising in terms of captured scenes, uncompromised shots, persistent suspense providing a good stirring atmosphere, some rebuffs could also be noticed between the lines. A number of inconsistent factual government details and vague determination hinder the movie from becoming a full-blown action film masterpiece.
Carefully planned the production, Director Wilson Yip succeeded to bring out the best in dark, bluish bad-ass type of movie like SPL. He effectively showed the battle and tension between a group of police and high profile gangsters. Not only that, Yip came perfectly with awesome angular shots on the right timing of cuts in between. The sound effects accompanying certain scenes also did well in providing the right emotions for the viewers.
However, the focus of the movie is mainly on the action scenes and not on the script. The poorly written script and short dialogues did not bring out the best character portrayal especially for Po’s role. Despite the fact that he showed the soft side of him, it could be a little more dramatic if the hospital scene where he met the kid of the couple he murdered is more elaborated with fine scripts.
Another downside of this movie is Donnie Yen’s role of Inspector Ma, where he showed less of what can be expected from his character. Yes, he is a great martial artist yet he lacks the quality of an actor in this movie. He seems a little out of place in a dark action film like SPL. Good thing, his character gives a little interesting story about his past that steals the spotlight every time.
Comparing both actors and martial artists into a great extent, Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung both showed outstanding performances in combat scenes. The fight sequences are commendably demonstrated with a lot of grappling and throwing accompanied by several bone-breaking and nerve-wracking sound effects in the background.
A film with extraordinary storyline and characters, SPL contains a good mix of enjoyable martial arts action sequences and realistic crime ideas typical of most Hong Kong action flicks. Unluckily, the movie’s plot is slightly predictable throughout the film as it gets over-styled at the same time. Nevertheless, the slow pacing kept up with the fantastic finale which utterly surprised every viewer and enthusiast. Still recommendable, SPL showcased most of the good things that can be expected from a martial art movie that certainly would not fail your assumptions.