SPL: Kill Zone (2005)
Detective Chan decides that he must defeat gangster boss Wong Po once and for all, but he must also deal with his future replacement, Detective Ma Kwun, who joins Chan's unit.
Director: Wilson Yip (as Yip Wai Shun)Writers: Wilson Yip (as Yip Wai Shun), Kam-Yuen Szeto (as Szeto Kam Yuen)Stars: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung
Kill Zone SPL (2005) is perhaps one of the lesser known martial arts films. Starring Donnie Yen, Simon Yam and Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Kill Zone follows inspector Chan (Simon Yam) and his to be successor Detective Ma Kwun (Donnie Yen) as they work to put away one of the city’s most feared gang bosses Wong Po (Sammo Hung). Kill Zone is a ninety-minute display of flawless choreography, brutal action supported by a compelling and grounded plot.
Kill Zone SPL perfectly brings the world of martial arts to the gritty streets of Hong Kong. The film keeps the elegance of the art: dance-like moves, graceful leaps, perfect wirework while adding a layer of violence and grit. Whether in an alley or between stools in a bar, the choreography is on point, each sequence offering something new for action fans to feast on. Yet what makes Kill Zone SPL considerably more memorable than most martial arts crime movies is the fact that Kill Zone maintains a realism throughout.
Despite the unbelievable leaps across a room, or the triple flips characters effortlessly complete Kill Zone balances the absurd with the believable. Characters tire, they aren’t throwing their hardest and fastest blows throughout the fight, they grunt and groan with each injury they sustain and as each sequence unfolds, the choreography gradually becomes a brawl, a tangle of limbs on the grimy floor amidst broken glass and splintered wood.
The film keeps the elegance of the art: dance-like moves, graceful leaps, perfect wirework while adding a layer of violence and grit.
Perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in the movie and quite likely one of the greatest martial arts displays ever, Kill Zone’s alley fight between Donnie Yen and Wu Jing captures the tone and intensity of the entire movie. The scene begins with the throb of electronic music as the two characters approach each other in the alley. Yen expressionless and intense pulls out an extensible baton, Jing watches with a grin and reveals his knife that glints in the neon lights in the alley. They run toward each other with a war cry of sorts and the battle begins, the throb of the music continues and fades as the two weapons rapidly collide. The moment is all about speed, the weapons are a blur, we see glints and hear the clashes, each blow building in intensity. A good portion of the fight was in fact improvised, each actor responding by reflex, and took several takes to complete however the final result is mind blowing.
Kill Zone is tight, brutal and everything martial arts fans are looking for. Over the years the film has influenced Hong Kong cinema and even Hollywood setting a new bar for gritty crime movies. Kill Zone gives its audience action while holding its spectacular sequences together with a compelling plot, the fights are more than clips of perfect choreography, they matter to the plot. It’s a balance difficult to find and Kill Zone nails it.