Benny Chan’s The White Storm was a riveting, explosive crime epic in 2013, packed with riveting and high drama led by Louis Koo, Sean Lau and Nick Cheung for its heroic bloodshed narrative. That was six years ago, and with the time its taken for The White Storm 2: Drug Lords to arrive, newly-installed Herman Yau crafts an explosive, spectacular sequel that swells the bodycount.
Yau’s tale spans a fifteen year tale of brotherhood, betrayal and retribution, culmimating the interwoven tales of two triad brothers, Dizang (Louis Koo) and Tin (Andy Lau), and a relentless cop named Fung (Michael Miu) on a mission to bust the city’s worst of the worst. Over the course of the film, what neither side is ready for are the casualties that already remain pending as the city’s war on crime spills on the streets, as do the rivalries between bosses.
Tin is a junkie struggling to hold his marriage together while Dizang is tasked with keeping peddlers and junkies at bay from his clubs. The head of the Ching Hing game (Lam Suet) thinks Dizang is breaking the organization’s code of staying clean, and triad brother Tin is tasked with the punishment, effectively ending their bond with Dizang forced to leave town and never come back.
Fifteen years later, Tin is newly married to his business partner (Karena Lam), reformed from his past life and has managed to elevate himself into the corporate world as a property tycoon. Moreover, multitudes of his investments are now toward campaigning against illicit drug rings now plaguing Hong Kong, as well as donating to charities throughout Asia.
As for Dizang, he’s taken the full swan dive into the drug trade, expanding his business and growing his volume, ultimately becoming a contender as the city’s most powerful drug lord. With business booming however, the war on drugs just became personal for Tin following a startling revelation years in the making. Hiring his own team of fellow cohorts to foment and disrupt business, Tin is utilizing his own resources to negate the drug trade in secret from Fung who has been pounding the pavement between raids, leading the way as the chief of the Narcotics Bureau.
A major player in Hong Kong is executed and Dizang now wants to stake his claim for expansion, and the plan eventually backfires. The on-going saga eventually brings the former brothers full circle following the tragic passing of a loved one. The reunion is far more bitter than sweet after all that’s been said and done, with Tin now offering a million dollar bounty on the city’s biggest drug lord, doing little to quell the unending drug war. With Dizang gaming the system and the police caught in the middle as unwittimg pawns, it’s only a matter of time before this cat and mouse game brings itself to a screeching, fatal halt.
Yau’s sequel reassures planting its feet amply into an anti-drug platform with plentiful focus on the decaying effects of addiction and mental illness. That part of the story briefly extends itself to the Philippines speaks inherently to current events surrounding the country’s own aggressive anti-drug policies.
Koo’s return to the fray lends one among a raft of solid performances next to actors Lau and Miu, apart from getting Koo fans back into theater seats; His is a role that especially works for the story that entails in The White Storm 2: Drug Lords – an interesting add to Yau’s sequel-in-name successor to Chan’s 2013 outing.
The film definitely challenges you to look at drug addiction and the ugly side of intervention through certain key moments among characters, including a moment that sees Fung’s daughter desperately trying to save a friend’s life. Keeping the pot stirring, of course, is the action to sustain the film’s commercial viability as a worthy crime thriller – one considerably choc-filled with action of the destructive kind.
The action doesn’t hold back in the least. Gun battles chew their way through drug labs and tight rooms, and nearly every scene involving cars of various sizes is a terrifying derby packed either with survivors, cops, or people waiting to be casualities. The design here in some of these scenes, particularly those including explicit falling deaths, invokes a more-than-sizeable share of manslaughter. It’s violent, jam-packed with a mix of both average CG and authentic stunt performance, and it’ll wake you up time and again.
The automotive chase scene in a subway station in the third act bodes as a pretty sheer example of this. It’s a truly edge-of-your-seat kind of experience and it only arouses the curiousity as to how this scene and others were filmed as they were. If it makes you want to buy the DVD or Blu and endulge in some behind-the-scenes featurette action, then needless to say, Yau’s done his part.
I’m hesitant to elucidate some of the more interpersonal turmoil between a few key characters lest I spoil certain essential twists here. For now, time will tell if another White Storm will brew with Koo somehow reincarnated into another role – if that’s the case; a sequel would be a welcome feat to endulge if the right filmmaker can make it work following Yau’s The White Storm 2: Drug Lords.
At any rate, fans who enjoyed what Benny Chan brought to the table can look forward to an entertaining, evocative dramatic action thrillride.