It’s been several years since the announcement of a third chapter in the Sha Po Lang crime saga with S.P.L.: War Needs Lord. At least tentatively though, the closest we have here is Wilson Yip’s 2017 neo-noir action crime thriller, Paradox, billed as more of a tangible side story apart from the two previous installments, S.P.L., and S.P.L. 2: A Time For Consequences.
Casting Louis Koo for the role of Lee, a dauntless Hong Kong cop on a mission to search for his missing daughter in the Thai city of Pattaya, the film also stars Wu Yue, Gordon Lam, Tony Jaa and Chris Collins along with Hanna Chan, Vitthaya Pansringarm and Ken Lo, with a script by Jill Leung and Nick Cheuk.
Much like its two predecessors, the non-canonical Paradox takes its inspiration from the the three stars of Chinese astrology. Koo is in fine form as Lee, an imperfect man struggling to cope with his worst fears whilst treading a seedy criminal network, and with Yue lending an impressive support role as Pattaya detective Chui Kit, a family man himself, who may very well be teetering into a downward spiral of foreboding and misfortune by helping Lee pursue leads in solving the case.
The omnious element of the story comes courtesy of actor and action star Tony Jaa who marks his return to the S.P.L. fray following A Time For Consequences, this time as Chui Kit’s more partner, Tak, whose intuition edges more on spiritual awareness than anything. Not resting purely on its revenge thriller laurels is the casting of Lam as Cheung, the close advisior to a city politician whose own health may be on the brink, and indubitably, the dots connect from there.
Paradox earned numerous nominations and award, notably Best Action Choreography for the 37th Hong Kong Film Awards. Inarguably, it’s a plus for a film whose lead actor isn’t relatively known as a martial arts star compared to the film’s other headliners, and a huge credit to the film’s own action director, Sammo Hung, who knew just how to make Koo look as good as the rest of his cast; Wong Hoi (Bodyguards And Assassins, Manhunt) scored a nomination on the project for Best Editor.
Coupled with brilliant performances and a commercial appeal as a neo-noir revenge tale headlined by some of Asia’s biggest entertainers, Paradox is certainly a return to darker territory for the S.P.L. franchise. The film pretty much does for Koo what Taken did for Liam Neeson, and suggestively better depending on your tastes (Pierre Morel directed the hell out of that one, might I add).
Moreover, there isn’t really a single moment that Paradox slows down, bar only to set you up for the next plot development, and they each keep our characters moving from one scene to the next and nearly never lacking in balance and pacing. It’s grim, gruesome and brutal, and even shocking for a few times, and it’s also still of the freshest action movies to date, and one of the most celebrated of the last decade by most action fan blogs. To that end, you’re welcome to bide your time now and check it out on Fox Entertainment’s Tubi.
The film is also available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital from Well Go USA in North America.