SPL is a Hong Kong action film that features Donnie Yen, who will later on become a megastar who acts in the Ip Man trilogies and even the Rogue One. They also include Sammo Hung, a veteran who is famous for his choreography and wushu skills. So, can SPL be another action film that is just full of actions without stories? Or can it separate itself from other similar films in the genre? Read on to find out!
The basic premise is pretty cliche in the Hong Kong action genre where police and gangsters are involved. So we have Chan Kwok Chung, a police officer who vowed to get revenge on Wong Po, a triad boss that killed his witness’s family. He takes care of the surviving child but is informed that he has a tumour that will kill him eventually. With limited time left, he and his group try to find all sorts of ways, legal and illegal, to frame Wong Po and puts him behind the bar. Meanwhile, Ma Kwun, a new inspector who is set to replace Chan, dislikes his methods but they have to eventually make a choice when events begin to unfold uncontrollably out of their hands.
First of all, I would say the movie is pretty dark. It is way darker than some other action films. Its theme is very grey, with justice and evil being two sides of the same coin. We are shown the perspective of both Wong Po and Chan and Ma Kwun, these three stands by their ideal and have reasons to avoid arrest, capture and defend Police Honour respectively. Their characters are fleshed out well along the way. Surprisingly, even the minor characters gain some screen time as well, enabling us to see both their serious side and loving sides, especially where their families are concerned.
Action wise, this film has it all. This is especially with Sammo Hung & Donnie Yen battling it out in the middle and ending part of the film. Each punch, jab, throw and strike feels solid and heavy, with the sound effects balance realism and exaggeration at the same time. You will be awed at some of the scenes where knifes fly and raw wushu skills come to play. There are great shots of slow-motion and quick cuts which increase the tension and action paces. Also, the actions are paced properly and not overused in the film, which is quite rare in such films nowadays.