Michal Mak's second sequel to his brother's action classic finds an ex-soldier/escaped death row prisoner fleeing to Hong Kong and forced to work for a gang of criminals when they kidnap the woman he loves.
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Ching Wan Lau,
Francis Chun-Yu Ng
Equally great with the first part of this incredible saga
Michael Mak directed this sequel, Long Arm of the Law 2 (1987), to his brother Johnny's Long Arm of the Law (1984), the first of all heroic bloodshed films made in Hong Kong. The first film is very gritty and fierce, and ends in one of the greatest and most incredible gun fight segments in the history of Hong Kong cinema. It is obvious, that I had high expectations on this sequel, Arm 2, and the fact is that I am definitely not disappointed. Arm 2 is not related to first Arm at all, but the story is pretty similar and involves mainland Chinese going to Hong Kong, rob something there, and go back to the mainland and never get caught. This is called the Big Circle and in this sequel, a three guys mainland group gets out of jail in Hong Kong and can return to home in mainland only, if they serve as undercover cops for some time in order to track down criminal groups and perhaps also another Big Circle criminals and thus help the local police. They agree and get an older undercover cop for assistance, and that's about the structure of this fierce piece of action cinema. This is perhaps little more polished than the first film, but it is still very bleak and brutal, to say the least.
Once again, the action scenes are totally unbelievable and full of fire and mayhem. The action is not as plenty as in the first Arm film, but what's there is equally brilliantly staged and shot. The usual elements of the "heroic" genre are all there since betrayal and honor are the key elements that relate the characters and also eventually become their destiny. There are no happy endings in these films, since the world they depict is not too happy either. Johnnie To's and Andrew Kam's ultra over-the-top The Big Heat (1988) is very apocalyptic and infernal piece of mayhem cinema, and it has really dark vision of world and life, even though the ending is somewhat "happy" in The Big Heat. These Eastern films are absolutely unique and perhaps impossible to equal by any other country and its cinema.
Long Arm of the Law 2 is often little confusing as there are many characters and something's going on all the time, but that is again usual in these films, which open more on each viewing. Long Arm 2 has incredible rage in its action scenes, and there is one particularly brutal and horrific torture scene that is even more brutal than any scene in the first Arm film. These Arm films are very rough stuff even in Hong Kong standars, and fans of tamer actioners won't probably like these bleak and gritty true-to-life action thrillers. These films don't offer entertainment nor funny moments and characters to identify with; these are serious and horribly realistic depictions of life and humans' morals and values in this kind of world. I think Long Arm of the Law 1 and 2 are equally brilliant pieces of action cinema, and they both are almost similar in their merits, albeit part one is the grittier one.
Long Arm of the Law 2 is a 9/10 masterpiece of mayhem action cinema, and these films will without a doubt remain as the greatest films in the heroic bloodshed genre, among some other efforts and masters in the field. Mak brothers prove that there's also other great talents than Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam and John Woo.
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