Director: Gordon Chan
Notable Cast: Deng Chao, Liu Yifei, Collin Chou, Ronald Cheng, Anthony Wong, Jiang Yiyan, Cheng Taishen, Liu Yan, Wu Xiubo, Sheren Tang, Waise Lee
First things first, if you are someone looking to watch this film without seeing its predecessor, The Four, I want you to stop everything and go see that film first. The Four II, or as the US release would like it to be called Lawless Kingdom, is very much dependent on the viewer knowing the character arcs and plot points of the first film for this film to work. After watching The Four II for the first time, I had to go back and rewatch The Four again before partaking in this action fantasy flick a second time for this review. Once I did, there were a lot of little things that made a lot more sense with the first film fresh in my mind. So don’t let the new title fool you, this is a sequel that very much depends on you knowing the characters arcs and plot elements of the first film.
After the events of the first film, Coldblood (Deng Chao), Emotionless (Liu Yifei), Iron Hands (Collin Chou), and Life Snatcher (Ronald Cheng), have become public heroes known as The Four. Yet, their roles as detectives in the Divine Constabulary are going to be put to the test when their leader Zhuge Zhenwo (Anthony Wong) is accused of killing the Sheriff King. Coldblood is sure that he is the perpetrator, but it drives a wedge into his relationship with Emotionless which makes the conspiracy they uncover all the more difficult to see clearly.
|Back to back.|
It helps that the cast is great and they all seem dedicated to the cause. There isn’t a whole lot of development for most of our heroes, particularly since a lot of that ground was covered in the first film, but they seem heavily invested in making every moment work. Particular note goes to the secondary characters outside of the titular Four who have to carry some of the more ambiguous scenes to move the mystery plot forward. Partnered with some strong visuals from director Gordon Chan, who handles the fantasy elements remarkably well within the context of the universe, and generally speaking The Four II comes off as a rather riveting film.
Oddly enough, the film does seem a bit light on action overall and the film’s structure makes the big action set piece (the previously mentioned prison break) come at the end of the second act. The film spends a lot of time developing the story and character interactions for a big reveal at the end of the third act. The action, when presented, is fun in a sort of magical wuxia manner, but compared to the more classically structured first film it doesn’t feel quite as intense as it might have. For an action film, it tends to feel a bit forced at times.
|Yep. That's definitely a wuxia moment.|