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Cold War 2 - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Han zhan 2

Hong Kong 2016

Genre:
Crime, Thriller

Director:
Longman Leung
Sunny Luk

Cast:
Aaron Kwok
Tony Leung Ka-Fai
Chow Yun-Fat
Eddie Peng
Charlie Young
Janice Man
Aarif Lee
Tony Yang
John Chang


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Cold War 2

Cold War 2 - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) has become the new Police Commissioner, after his predecessor M.B. Lee (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) has been forced to go into early retirement since his son Joe (Eddie Peng) was responsible for the disappearance of an Emergency Unit van and all of its police officers. Joe is in jail, but still has connections to the outside and makes use of it to kidnap Lau's wife and by doing so enforce his release. During the handover Joe actually manages to escape, although the police's plan was a bit different. At the same time a bomb explodes in a subway station during the escape. Lau now has to defend his decisions not just in front of the media, but also at an official hearing in which the case is investigated. One member of the gremium is the well-respected consultant Oswald Kan (Chow Yun-Fat), who after M.B. Lee's testimony that he listened to a conversation between Lau and Joe which hinted at the Police Commissioner probably being corrupt is very interested in the case. Meanwhile, there is no doubt for Lau that Lee's actions are pointing towards powerful politicians who offered him a high-ranking position for his testimony. Lau does everything in his power to uncover the conspiracy in this case.

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Cold War 2 - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Some movies have such a big advertising company backing them up that they actually can't bomb at the box office. "Cold War 2" is such a case. "Cold War" already couldn't fully convince me which is why this sequel isn't really an understandable conclusion for me. But being successful at the box office naturally also means that a franchise has to be milked even further. And so we get another action thriller that centers around political agendas, meaning we get heated discussions that are underlined by a bombastic action soundtrack composed by Peter Kam ("Perhaps Love"). Like in the first installment this once again proves to be quite irritating and in the end even turns out to be incredibly annoying. Even during scenes in which nothing exceptional is happening, beats that quicken your pulse are thrown at you which gives you the feeling of being manipulated in the cheapest of manners.

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Even if you are willing to overlook many of the flaws the obtrusive soundtrack still pulls you out of the movie world too much for anyone to be able to cotton up to it. But the score isn't the only weakness of the flick. The movie has particularly strong issues with its story. The story is supposed to be smart and consists of several entanglements, but is full of plot holes and characters which are elaborated very thinly. The sheer amount of individuals, who are all introduced with their position in the police force or in politics, is aimed at giving the story a certain epic scale, but the filmmakers forget to give the characters at least somewhat of a personal background story. Sadly, this doesn't only include the supporting characters, but also the story's heroes.

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Aaron Kwok ("The Monkey King 2", "After this our Exile") with his seriousness and playing a man with a purpose manages to give the movie the foundation it needs, but apart from that he lacks a well written personal story, so that the few emotional moments with his family don't work. Tony Leung Ka-Fai ("Eye in the Sky", "Tai Chi Zero") seems a lot more interesting since his odd morale compass gives the picture more complexity. However, it's particularly M.B. Lee where the screenplay doesn't make use of its potential. A lot of stuff is merely hinted at and it doesn't matter for the rest of the story, eventually. Because of the lack of well fleshed out protagonists we also don't have the kind of anchors that keep us grounded in the story.

Cold War 2 - Film Screenshot 7

Nearly all supporting characters haven't been put to use in a profitable manner, with the exception of the extensive cameo appearance by Chow Yun-Fat ("The Last Tycoon", "Office"), who manages to give his role a certain depth, although he suddenly disappears from the screen from a certain point onwards in the story. That's a general problem of the movie. Characters are dropped in favor of new ones and the red thread running through everything is lost sight of by the screenwriters often enough. Accordingly, the story turns out to be unecessarily confusing and most importantly is told in a heavy-handed fashion. Some plot holes even prove to be ridiculous and this is even the more a problem since "Cold War 2" takes itself incredibly serious and wants to stand as a politically orientated thriller.

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However, on a positive note it needs to be pointed out that the film's pacing is quite high. Therefore, there is never any boredom creeping in. Somehow, the story also remains interesting enough for us to keep following it and as a little extra the few action scenes prove to be very well achieved, especially one certain shootout in a tunnel, even though it's also this scene which makes us question the villains' intelligence who instigate this skirmnish. Directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk already showed with the first installment and "Helios" that they know how to put together an action thriller that is grand in scale and spectacular, yet is more smoke and mirrors than anything else. "Cold War 2" simply lacks real substance. Nonetheless, we certainly won't be waiting for a third installment for long.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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