Leung chews scenery as mercurial baddie

Louis Koo (right) plays a bomb disposal unit officer who goes undercover to nail a crime boss (Tony Leung Ka Fai, left).
Louis Koo (right) plays a bomb disposal unit officer who goes undercover to nail a crime boss (Tony Leung Ka Fai, left).PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

REVIEW / CRIME THRILLER

CHASING THE DRAGON II: WILD WILD BUNCH (PG13)

101 minutes/Opens today/3 stars

The story: It is 1996, one year before Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule, and crime boss Long Zhiqiang (Tony Leung Ka Fai) is pulling off outrageous kidnappings with eye-popping ransom figures. In order to nail him, He Tian (Louis Koo), a bomb disposal unit officer, goes undercover as an explosives expert on the wrong side of the law.

This is a crime thriller that is a sequel only in name.

The first, Chasing The Dragon (2017), spanned decades from the 1960s and featured different characters played by A-listers Donnie Yen and Andy Lau.

It was a surprisingly coherent effort from king of B-grade movies Wong Jing.

The tenuous link here is that the main antagonist is named Long, which is Chinese for dragon.

Hong Kong film-maker Wong returns as co-director and co-writer. And while Wild Wild Bunch is less steeped in period detail than the first movie, it does have a reasonably strong central story.

There are some tense moments, as when He is grilled by Long at their first meeting - while hooked up to a lie-detector machine; and when, of course, He has to figure out how to disarm a bomb with his life on the line.

A key question here is whether a member of Long's crew, who is referred to only as Prof (Gordon Lam) and knows that He is a cop, is friend or foe.

The ever-hardworking Koo - he has at least four films out this year - humanises He with some manly tears and also through his rapport with his superior/friend (Simon Yam).

Leung, meanwhile, chews scenery as the mercurial baddie, one who has enough cash lying around to construct a model of a building out of wads of bills.

There are some missteps though, including an overly literal soundtrack. At one point, the line "somebody lies" is repeated as, well, characters lie.

And it is somewhat of a stretch to have Leung, 61, and Chinese actor Ye Xiangming, 34, cast as siblings.

Meanwhile, Chinese actress Sabrina Qiu gets to show off her butt cheeks and her busty form as the hotpants-loving femme fatale Tutu.

Wong, not known for his enlightened treatment of female characters, slips back into his old ways once again.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2019, with the headline 'Leung chews scenery as mercurial baddie'. Print Edition | Subscribe