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Title: Kill Zone 2

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:77

“Kill Zone” (not to be confused with the video game “Killzone”) was one of the best Hong Kong martial arts films to come out of the East for quite some time. Starring Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung, it was a brutal tale of police perseverance in taking down a crime lord. Full of nonstop action and some great choreography between Jacky Wu and Donnie during the second half of the film, it was one of the last of the truly GREAT Hong Kong martial art films. Over a decade later a sequel has been born from the ashes (well, a sequel in name only, even though it’s starring some of the same actors that were in the first “Kill Zone”) with more cops going undercover and getting down and dirty with the bad guys. This time they’ve spiced things up a bit by adding in Thai Boxer, Tony Jaa, to the mix and adding an almost operatic flair to the music and style to make a unique action thriller that is a nice throwback to the late 90’s and early 2000 era of martial arts filming.

Caught up in the life of a druggie and crime, undercover Detective Kit (Jacky Wu) is caught after blowing his cover to the crime lord that he’s been working for. It seems that there is a crime wave running through the city where people are being kidnapped and then harvested for their organs. Detective Kit was sent in to root out the bad guys, but during a high level acquisition his cover was blown. Now the criminal mastermind has sent Kit to a Thai prison lorded over by the cruel warden Ko Hung (Jin Zhang), and used as leverage to get back the high value asset that was taken from them during the mess up. Now Kit has to figure out a way to get out of the prison, and his only hope being a down and out prison guard named Chatchai (Tony Jaa).

The film is filled with a myriad of different sub plots and loop de loops. We have Kit and his detective uncle, Chan Kwok-Wah (The incredible Simon Yam), and then there is Chatchai and his daughter, not to mention the real reason for the main villain wanting the high value target. Each one is vitally important to the plot, but there are some hiccups along the way too. To start it all off, Chan Kwok-Wah is desperate to find his detective nephew, and leaves no stone unturned in his quest to find and release Kit from the clutches of the brutal Ko Hung.

On the other hand the other two sub plots are kind of strange. We spend an overly long amount of time dealing with Chatchai and his terminally ill daughter Sa. It works fine at first, setting up the reason WHY Chatchai is sympathetic and WHY he’s working for the evil Ko Hung in the first place. However it gets out of hand when you realize (very obviously from early on) that the secret donor that can save Sa’s life is actually Detective Kit. It comes off as a bit corny and overly played out in the end. Then you have the MAIN storyline dealing with the villain (Louis Koo) who is desperately looking for a heart transplant and can’t due to having a VERY rare blood type. The other two stories seem to feed into this one, but unfortunately it is overly side railed due to the over explanation of Chatchai and his daughter.

All that being said, no one in their right mind is watching “Kill Zone 2” for the in depth, Oscar wining story. We want to see our heroes kick some serious butt and that’s exactly what we’re getting here. There’s a LOT of great action sequences (although some of them feel strangely soft due to the operatic and dramatic music playing vs. your standard blood pumping score that fits with most martial arts films) and the two unique styles of Jacky Wu and Tony Jaa made for an incredible end fight scene. There is a lot of Wire-fu with a couple characters, which felt a bit strange as all of the characters involved are actually really talented martial artists with no need for that type of trickery. At least in the heavily stylized way it was portrayed on film. Still, the action was intense and the plot more than satisfactory for a good butt kicking time. I have been glad that Tony Jaa has finally been pulling himself out of the mire of mediocrity and garbage (shudder, I still have nightmares about “The Protector 2”) that he’s been engaging in the last few years and is finally letting his amazing moves out to play in a film worthy of his skill. Jacky Wu has never been a front runner in the martial arts world, but the varied cast allows the film to take the focus of his acting skills and put them squarely onto the amazing physicality that the man has on screen.


Not Rated by the MPAA

Video :4stars:
“Kill Zone 2” comes to Blu-ray with a really impressive looking 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer that is JUST this shy of being a 4.5/5 for quality. Fine detail and clarity are top notch, with great digital cinematography that really shines when showing off intimated facial and clothing details. The movie was obviously filmed in 3D for the Asian market, but sadly did not get a 3D release when it came to U.S. shores. Colors are solid, but this is where it bounces down from a 4.5/5 to a 4/5 rating. As with the seeming trend for most Hong Kong films, the colors tend to be a bit bleak and desaturated, with lots of blue/gray as the main color spectrum with splashes of gold and a few primaries later on in the film (such as the end battle where it’s tons of white and black with tinges of blue and silver thrown in). Black levels maintain a strong presence and show great shadow detail except for some mild crush inside the Thai prison.

Audio :4.5stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track in Thai/Cantonese/Mandarin is a head turner for sure, with great dialog and an explosive sense of power throughout. The fight scene between the warden and our two heroes is jaw dropping, with a sweeping sense of directionality and immersiveness that works for the high powered action film. The surrounds get a pretty hefty workout with the copious action sequences and don’t seem to die down until the quieter bits in the hospital. LFE is loud and aggressive, with a powerful low end that throbs with energy throughout the film. It’s not as “thick” as other LFE experiences I’ve reviewed recently, but there is a sharp sense of clarity and precision throughout the track that feels intense, yet controlled in the bass department.

Extras :1.5stars:

• 3-Part Making-of Featurette
- The Story
- The Fights
- The Vision
• Deleted Scenes

Overall: :3.5stars:

“Kill Zone 2” isn’t AS good as the first “Kill Zone” (sequels rarely ever are), and is really a sequel in name only. Jacky Wu makes for a great compatriot to the ever popular Tony Jaa and the non-stop action sequences make for a thrilling ride. I personally would have liked a little less wire-fu with Jin Zhang’s warden character, and the operatic score that went along with many of the fight scenes, but it was still a wildly entertaining ride. Tony Jaa is a return to his form after some very poorly received films in the last few years and Jacky Wu is still one of the best younger martial artists out there still making films in Hong Kong. Audio and video don’t disappoint, although the extras are a bit lean. Definitely worth a watch if you’re a martial arts fan.

Additional Information:

Starring: Jackie Wu, Tony Jaa, Simon Yam
Directed by: Pou-Soi Cheang
Written by: Lai-Yin Leung
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0, Original (Thai, Cantonese and Mandarin Blend) DTS-HD MA 5.1, Original DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: NR
Runtime: 120 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 19th, 2016

Buy Kill Zone 2 On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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