Lethal Panther 2

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“If I could somehow peel off the half of the disc this is on and dispose of it, I would.”

While there’s no denying the quantity of action in this film, the result feels more like an all-you-can-eat ticket to Taco Bell than anything else: you find yourself yearning for some quality rather than the Grade-D battles we get to see here. The bar is set remarkably low after two sentences, literally, of exposition. We are hurled into a long battle between two groups, about whom we know little and care less, running around an abandoned building, firing weapons with complete abandon and engaging in really poorly-staged wirework, in lieu of actual martial-arts. Y’see, the point of using wires in a gritty urban flick like this, is to enhance the impact of the moves, not to turn the players into Peter Pan and Wendy. Having endured a couple of his movies, I am forced to the conclusion that Ko is definitely in the lower tier of action directors in Hong Kong.

And his talents in other cinematic areas seems hugely in doubt too. Shot in the Philippines – where film-stock is cheap – it only marginally qualifies as a girls-with-guns flick, and is largely included here as a warning to anyone who is expecting anything like the original movie. While that was a guilty pleasure, for its “anything can happen” vibe, this one is simply dull. It’s mostly about a local cop, Albert (Del Rosario, I presume), hunting down the criminals responsible for the death of his wife. Oshima plays a Japanese Interpol agent, sent over to target the same gang, but she is sadly wasted: she’s got enough talent that she doesn’t need to fly-by-wire, and there are just enough flashes of her athletic ability to make you wish there were more.

Huge chunks of this don’t make any sense, and you’ll soon find yourself tuning out and not caring as things career from one badly-executed fight or chase to the next. Things blow up, people fight, and large numbers of rounds of ammunition are expended, to little or no actual impact on the viewer. It’s films like this that drove a stake into the heart of the genre as far as Hong Kong was concerned, in the first half of the 1990’s.

Dir: Phillip Ko [as ‘Cindy Wong’ – don’t ask me why]
Star: Monsour Del Rosario, Gabriel Romulo, Yukari Oshima, Sharon Kwok

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