A near retired inspector and his unit are willing to put down a crime boss at all costs while dealing with his replacement, who is getting in their way. Meanwhile, the crime boss sends his top henchmen to put an end to their dirty schemes.
Chan, an articulate senior detective nearing the end of his career, is taking care of the daughter of a witness killed by ruthless crime lord Po. Martial arts expert Ma is set to take over as head of the crime unit, replacing Chan who wants an early retirement.Written by
Despite what others may claim Sha Po Lang is not up there with the best HK movies of it's kind made during the golden period of the 1980s, when the likes of Jackie Chan, John Woo and Ringo Lam were in their pomp. In fact, there have been better cop films than SPL released in more recent times in the territory, Infernal Affairs and Running Out of Time to name just two. What SPL does do successfully is tap into the style and tone of the type of films that made Hong Kong action film popular with western audiences during the 80s and 90s. In SPL, the line between right and wrong, good guys and bad guys, is blurred to the point of it almost becoming invisible (often a feature in John Woo's output). The fact that the film's most likable(?) character is a brutal mobster shows how there is no black and white in the world of Sha Po Lang, just differing shades of grey. It's Sammo Hung's excellent performance as gangster Po, committed family man yet also a ruthless, violent crime boss, that is at the heart of the film. Against him all the traditionally good cop characters seem to have to sacrifice their innate sense of right in order to achieve what they see as justice being done; resulting in them becoming more like the man they're trying to bring down. It all leads to regret, violence, death and a shocking finale that should live long in viewers memories. As for the action sequences, they are well executed if a little too brief, but none of them would make it into a ten (or twenty!) best HK fight scenes list. Simply put, Sha Po Lang is a well put together police thriller with decent action and a satisfyingly bleak, film noir-esquire tone. It's well worth seeing and if it kick-starts a return to the classic action style of Hong Kong cinema, even better!
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