Cold War 2
(Hong Kong) Crime/Action. Directed by Longman Leung and Sunny Luk. Starring Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Chow Yun-fat, Charlie Young. Category IIB. 110 minutes. Opens July 8.
All eyes are on the sequel to 2012’s “Cold War,” which cleaned up at the Hong Kong Film Awards that year, winning Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director. But in this new instalment, directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk seem to be biting off more than they can chew.
“Cold War 2” picks up right where its predecessor left off. Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) is now the new Commissioner of Police, while his rival, deputy Commissioner M.B. Lee
(Tony Leung) has retired after his son Joe (Eddie Peng) was jailed for orchestrating the abduction of four police constables.
The film kicks off with plenty of foreboding, as Lau buries a fellow policeman, minutes before receiving a call from an anonymous masked man. He’s kidnapped Lau’s wife, and will free her in exchange for Joe Lee’s release. Lau insists on carrying out the swap himself, so as to ferret out the culprit.
But the operation fails miserably, ending in an explosion in an MTR station and Joe’s suspiciously timely escape.
New to the game are independent legislator Oswald Kan (Chow Yun-fat) and his squad of lawyers who, during a public inquiry into the botched operation, begin to suspect that a plot lurks behind the surface, to get the Commissioner removed from office. The camera turns, and we discover a group of self-proclaimed “kingmakers” dividing up the slices of the cake as they plan their future roles in the Hong Kong government.
Hong Kong audiences will easily spot the political metaphors that shine through the courtroom bickering and action scenes alike. The directors cleverly tug at our uneasiness that there is indeed a “puppeteer” or a clique of “kingmakers” pulling the strings behind the political scenes, while steering clear of any explicit finger-pointing.
Starring a ridiculously good-looking ensemble of cops and ICAC officers, the film boasts a bumper mix of movie stars, small-screen actors, singers and ex-news anchors. Seeing these familiar faces pop up in the least expected places provides a little comic relief in this otherwise gloomy flick. But our central trio does their job well. Aaron Kwok’s character may fall short of the complexity of his co-stars, but he still manages to pull off some intense action sequences, as well as a realistic depiction of a desperate husband. Meanwhile Chow Yunfat, with a twinkle of wisdom in his eyes, slips seamlessly into his slick, powerful barrister persona. The gold star, however, goes to Tony Leung for taking us for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster with his strong eyebrow-acting as he turns the corner from righteous police commissioner to agonized father.
Sadly, even a star-studded cast can’t save the film from its multiple logical leaps and plot holes that will leave you scratching your head. For one, is there no mechanism in the police force that could override the Commissioner of Police’s decision to drop everything, strap on a bulletproof vest and escort a prisoner to a hostage exchange himself?
All these unsolved mysteries and a final shocking, patently unrealistic cliffhanger promises that the “Cold War” series will soon be back, with yet more cheesy lines and feel-good police propaganda. The Cold War isn’t over just yet. Sophia Lam