Starring Tony Jaa. Wu Jing, Zhang Jin (Max Zhang), Simon Yam, Ken Lo, Louis Koo
Fight Choreography by Chi Li Chung
Directed by Soi Cheang
The first Killzone was the first of what would be a run of films that would move Donnie Yen into his rightful place as one of the martial arts’ world’s legendary talents, going right up there with Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Sammo Hung. Now we come to Killzone 2, starring Wu Jing and Tony Jaa, both men needing hits after the nonsense that was Wolf Warrior and The Protector 2 respectively.
Wu Jing stars as Chi Kit Chang, and undercover cop who is close to busting a crime ring run by Mun-Gong Hung (Louis Koo, almost unrecognizable) a drug lord who is in need of a replacement heart, one he intends to collect from a compatible donor, his own brother. Chi Kit is betrayed, and tossed in a Thai prison, where he meets Chatchai (Jaa) a desperate man who needs to get a compatible liver for his young daughter, who will die soon unless she gets a transplant. He discovers that Chi Kit has such a liver. Of course complications occur when Hung’s right hand man Hung Ko (Zhang) is the warden of the prison that holds Chi Kit, and Chi Kits handler Wah Kwok Chan (Yam) has his niece kidnapped by Hung. Can Chi Kit and Chatchai save both themselves and live long enough to save Chatchai’s daughter?
I was skeptical about how a Killzone without Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung would play out, especially with Simon Yam and Wu Jing, who were in the first film, now playing different characters in the second. I needn’t have worried. Killzone 2 is its own film, but toward the climax, it ramps up the tension, especially if you’ve seen the first film. Many story beats repeat themselves, but the ending of those…you’ll have to see for yourself! Wu Jing is pitiable as the Chi Kit, his situation becoming more and more deadly the further things go. The same holds true for Tony Jaa, who does a good job here, but really the star here is Max Zhang. Proving his star turn in Ip Man 3 was no fluke, he makes a formidable and ruthless prison warden, and his onscreen charisma is evident. I think we may have found the next big Chinese martial arts star! The directing by Soi Cheang is spot on, and he finds the humanity of each character in every frame, and the story maximizes the drama, which is well written here.
The fights here are nothing short of brutal…but in the best way possible. It merges what we’ve seen in recent martial arts films with the Thai films of Tony Jaa, and it’s a marriage made in heaven (Tony is still missing Panna Rittikrai). The prison riot is one of the standouts, maybe even besting the prison fight in The Raid 2, but the final fight between Wu Jing and Tony Jaa versus Max Zhang is stunningly great, up there with the best of them. There is a little wirework, but its kept to a minimum.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9
Killzone 2 is a great return to form for both Tony Jaa and Wu Jing, in a taunt thriller with great fight scenes and a showstopper of a final fight. (Max) Zhang Jin is a bonafide star, and this film cements it. A very worthy sequel to the original.
The film is out TODAY from the good folks at Wellgousa!