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SPL : Sha Po Lang (HK 2005)

Director : Wilson Yip Wai Shun
Produced by : Carl Chang
Action Director : Donnie Yen
Screenplay : Szeto Kam Yuen, Ng Wai Lun
Cast : Donnie Yen (Inspector Ma Kwan), Simon Yam (Chan Kwok Chung). Sammo Hung (Wong Po)
Co-Starring : Liu Kai Chi, Danny Summer, Ken Chang, Austin Wai, Timmy Hung, Kenji Tangki
Special Introduction : Wu Jing (Jack)

Synopsis
A powerful crime lord who constantly eludes the law…a senior detective at the end of his career who will go to any lengths to catch him…and a deadly martial arts expert who is about to take the reins of the serious crime unit. Over the course of one special day – a time when family bonds are supposed to take precedence – a bloody confrontation will take place between the underworld and the police.

Review
by Gary Cheah

WARNING : Might contain some spoilers

It seems that all the hype about this crime-thriller flick was true. SPL is definitely one of the most anticipated film to come out from the ever great Hong Kong movie industry in recent years. This is the movie that will be remembered as the one that recapture the glory of HK’s action movies. So, what is this SPL? It stands for Sha, Po and Lang which derived from the names of three renegade stars in Chinese astrology which symbolize the three main characters (destruction, conflict or avarice).

It begin when a group of policeman, led by Senior Inspector Chan’s (Simon Yam) who are tasked to nail down a triad leader, Wong Po (Sammo Hung). On the verge of convicting the man, the key witness and wife are murdered, leaving Wong Po a free man. From this point onwards, they are obsessed with Wong Po and determine to bring him to justice in any way. Soon, they are taking the law into their own hands…

For the first 45 minutes -SPL is dark, slick and stylish with some intense cop-triad thrillers. After that mark, the real action is about to begin. One of the recurring theme in the movie is that all these played out during the Father’s Day. Its tightly scripted to bring the relationship between father and sons into the stakes of war.

It’s fun to watch the great Sammo Hung again, with his silver-streaked hair and a menacing presence, he is a formidable figure in the underworld triads. At the age nearing 60, he still moves like a 25 and kick some serious ass. As usual, the charismatic Simon Yam was cool as the desperate cop who loses his way. Enter Donnie Yen (Iron Monkey, Hero, Seven Swords) -a cool, macho and highly martial arts skilled cop. SPL is probably the first film that he really acts and it turns out to be quite good. In the movie, he has the chance to showcase his martial arts prowess with some sensational duels with Wu Jing and Sammo Hung. Besides the acting, he has done exceptionally well behind the scene as the action choreographer. Wu Jing, the deadly Po’s hitman, is an underrated talent who is a former wushu champ and share the same master of Jet Li. He has appeared in some decent kung fu flicks such as Tai Chi 2 and Drunken Monkey.

Among the highly anticipated scenes are the climatic fight scenes between Donnie Yen and the underrated rising star, Wu Jing and the finale showdown between Donnie Yen and the legendary Sammo Hung. The first fight took place in an alley, a metal baton vs a 40cm knife showdown. The action sequences were shot in a brutal and lightning pace that ends with a geyser of blood, definitely worth multiple viewing! The second fight (finale) scene took place at Po’ turf where they exchange blows, punches, kicks and even body slams. Expect some gruesome and violent brawl where both fights with full vengeance!

SPL is a contemporary kung-fu action film that combines high-octane martial arts with intense, compelling crime drama. Like everyone said “SPL is an absolute MUST-WATCH!” Failing to watch SPL on the big silver screen is like missing a milestone in Hong Kong Cinema.

*The “politically-correct” China version has had five crucial minutes at the end excised*

Rating
Plot : 3/5
Acting : 3/5
Entertainment : 5/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- Donnie Yen vs Wu Jing
- Donnie Yen vs Sammo Hung

Buy this movie at YesAsia – SPL : Sha Po Lang

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