A spiritual sequel to Wilson Yip’s 2005 martial arts film Killzone (Sha Po Lang), Dennis Law’s Triad Wars (Fatal Move in Hong Kong) is a solid film, that manages to interweave the great action of kung fu films, great gunplay and the plot and gritty tone of a gangster film. Sammo Hung and Simon Yam star as the two leads, as two brothers that run a local triad gang in Hong Kong. After a series of turf wars and battles with other triad gangs, they begin to see that one of their own gang members might be working for someone else. From botched drug shipments to a kidnapping of one of their financial backers, they begin to retaliate and try to corner the infiltrator in their ranks. This leads to plenty of bloodshed on all sides and the two brothers having to deal with the repercussions of all their actions as triad leaders. Filled with a solid cast and some great plot twists, Triad Wars has plenty of things going on, that even though its not a perfect movie, it still manages to be pretty entertaining.
Both Simon Yam and Sammo Hung anchor Triad Wars really well and maintain a solid presence throughout. The side roles played by the likes of Jacky Wu Jing, Tien Niu, Lam Suet, Maggie Shiu and plenty of other great Hong Kong actors also do a great job filling in their roles. There’s some great action bits that play throughout the film in really tense moments and do a fantastic job at showing what various members of the cast do best. There’s a segment halfway into the film that shows the gang infiltrating a police station, that manages to show the films ability to show off some great suspense and action. The only big gripe about the action is the poor integration of digital blood and green screen effects for dismembering of limbs. While there’s some practical effects that look really good, the portions that are digital really stand out and can take you out of a heated action scene.
Pacing is a bit of a problem in the film and sometimes scenes don’t feel as cohesive as they should. While various plot points are shown, the editing of them together somehow lacks some strength at various points of the film. A big one is the final fight scene between Sammo and Jacky, that really seems to come out of nowhere. While its a highlight of the film and a big draw for someone to be watching Triad Wars in the first place, its placement in the midst of them being surrounded by the police and being backed into a corner really makes it and shows how the scripting and writing of the film is at times shoddy. Granted, everything comes together in the end and the final scene between Sammo Hung and Tien Niu is absolutely riveting, the film manages to feel like its meandering and left me wondering why certain scenes where playing out as they were.
I wasn’t a big fan of Yip’s Killzone‘s but Triad Wars certainly did a much better job at telling a solid story. Triad Wars feels like a bit like the gangster films of Johnnie To and harkens to some great elements of Hong Kong action cinema that make a worthwhile experience. Recommended!