VOD Releases: Paradox (2017) - Reviewed

Paradox is the third installment in the SPL franchise, which had been re-titled as Kill Zone in North America. Tony Jaa and Louis Koo both appeared in Kill Zone 2, but are playing different characters in this film. Wilson Yip returns to direct this one after delivering the hard-hitting SPL in 2005, which starred Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. The storyline and characters for Paradox are also completely new and have nothing to do with the prior installments. Kill Zone 2 was one of the best action movies of 2016 that combined the serious crime and drama elements of Infernal Affairs with the bone-crunching action of the original Kill Zone and The Raid 2. This one does much of the same, but just doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the first two films in the franchise.

The narrative is a complex crime drama that involves human organ trafficking and the American baddie Sacha, a Hong Kong cop (Louis Koo) searching for his missing daughter in Thailand, and the local Chinese detective (Tony Jaa) who is investigating the disappearance. All of the people involved are unknowingly connected to each other in some way. Kill Zone 2 was a remarkable piece of cinema that delivered not only a heartfelt and emotional story, but also some stellar martial arts sequences. The major issue that I have with Paradox is its attempt at being a drama with some action versus an action film with dramatic elements. The first two films in the franchise managed to balance these elements to deliver some of the best action sequences in the past several years. The action sequences in this one are still as intense and visceral as the prior films were, however they just aren’t nearly as impressive.

Louis Koo shines as the worried father searching for his daughter, in a role that is reminiscent of Liam Neeson’s performance in Taken. His emotions are raw and it’s channeled into his menacing and vengeance fueled fight scenes. Koo also has most of the major dramatic moments and handles them well. Yue Wu delivers a fine performance as the Chinese detective working on the case. His character juxtaposes Koo’s nicely, with one trying to find his missing child while the other has one on the way. Tony Jaa returns in a minor role after his stand out performance in Kill Zone 2, in which he delivered both emotionally and physically. His minimal amount of screen time may have been the biggest blunder of the film, as I was really expecting to see more of him.

The action sequences are extremely intense and visceral and do manage to kick loads of butt. They are definitely not on the same level as the previous films, or the likes of The Raid, but they are still decent. There are several fights, with the finale in the meat factory being the best scene of the film by far. Koo and Wu take on a host of bad guys with big knives in the finale and it doesn’t disappoint. There is some wire work used throughout that personally I would have rather not seen used, but it doesn’t necessarily detract from the action.

Bottom line, there is some good action in Paradox, but it ultimately fails to live up to the lofty heights that the first two films in the franchise delivered. It’s still worth watching, just try not to have very high expectations.

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