Notable Cast: Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Chow Yun Fat, Charlie Young, Janice Man, Eddie Peng, Aarif Rahman, Tony Yang, Chang Kuo-chu
In preparation for the release of Cold War II, I recently went back and revisited the award winning first film. You can read my review HERE if you are so interested. The film holds up surprisingly well and it fueled a fire within me to see the box office crushing sequel. So it’s pleasing for me to be able to say that not only does Cold War II hold its own against its thrilling predecessor, but it might actually out maneuver it in a few ways. Considering how effective the original Cold War is as a thriller, the sequel has action that hits harder, conspiracies that run deeper, and performances even more layered. It’s not quite the same in many ways, but it certainly carries the same surefire intensity and writing depth that makes it one of the more unique thrillers one is likely to see anytime soon (outside of perhaps a third film, considering its worldwide box office success.) Hold on because the Cold War franchise is just getting warmed up with this latest thrill ride.
The Cold War mission was both a success and failure. The EU van is still missing, but the conspiracy has been uncovered that was meant to kick Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) out of the running for police commissioner and the missing officers were rescued. However, nothing is really as it seems and a mysterious man has demanded the release of Joe Lee (Eddie Peng). Sean Lau’s involvement has left a lot of questions for an investigation by Oswald (Chow Yun Fat) and Lee’s father (Tony Leung Ka-fai) is just the starting point.
|"Don't lecture me cause I'm the new guy."|
This slightly new approach allows for a bit more of a traditional thriller vibe to take hold and it allows some of the new characters their time to weave into the plot. Chow Yun Fat, while listed as an extended cameo of sorts, actually serves as a third lead to the already established Tony Leung Ka-fai and Aaron Kwok and his appearance adds in some life to the somewhat recycled structure. By the time the three of them face off against one another towards the end of the second act the tension has mounted enough that I could watch them argue, slam things on desks, and straighten their tailored suits all day. They are all distinctive enough in their view points and character builds that the audience sees it coming, but the execution of the build and the payoffs is impressive to say the least. Just prior to this moment, fans are treated to a slow burn chase sequence that explodes in a massive gun battle in a tunnel on a freeway that is just brimming with excitement and impressive visual flair, but the turnaround three way discussion between the leads might top it for the high point of the film. Credit goes to the directors for nailing the execution on both sequences.
Like the first one, Cold War II does not end on a massive action sequence like one might expect from a Hong Kong thriller, but it does play out its pieces like a chess match instead. With everything in play, the plot and characters converge at just the right moments for the tension and atmospheric dread to remain until it has all played out. It still has a handful of explosive moments left in the barrel for audiences here and there, but really the film never needs them as the interactions, writing, and performances are all strong enough to really make it feel fitting for the film’s approach. Who needs bullets when the plot unravels at the rate that it does to a satisfying conclusion? Not Cold War II.
|Now, he...nose the truth.|
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