A sequel in name only, think HBO’s True Detective series, Chasing the Dragon II features an entirely different cast and time period than its predecessor, only sharing the same theme of a heavily fictionalized historical true crime story. This time out Directors Jason Kwan and Jing Wong, in their second film of a planned trilogy, focus on the rash of high profile kidnappings perpetrated in the 1990’s by Cheung Tze-keung (aka “Big Spender) here redubbed Logan Long and played with delicious glee by the incomparable Tony Leung Ka-Fai.
Set in 1996, the film opens with a grizzled police captain played by Simon Yam recruiting his best former undercover detective back into the game to infiltrate Long’s gang since the group needs a new explosives expert. The detective, played by frequent Johnnie To collaborator Louis Koo, reluctantly goes along with the plan and he’s soon worked his way up the ranks to the big gang, where he may have been immediately made as a cop. What follows is hyper-stylish thriller filled with misdirects and double crosses that play out until the very end.
Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch is very much an exercise in style over substance as it has very little in the way of character development shown on screen, the most development actually comes from side plots that occur concurrently to the main story. The film does proceed with decent pacing though as the story rarely lets up enough to allow the audience to get bored. Koo’s characters expertise with bombs leads to a fun sequence with him desperately trying to diffuse a suicide vest while up against a rapidly decreasing clock. And the film finishes with a solidly executed chase sequence.
However, the real reason the film works and does not fall apart is because of the film’s leads. Tony Leung Ka-Fai is fantastic here, effortlessly chewing scenery like a starved Pac-man getting a meal, his performance is one of glorious excess. Louis Koo and Simon Yam are also both equally great here, though their roles are more to ground the film and keep it somewhat close to reality. The supporting cast is great here too with Ka Tung Lam and Sabrina Qiu being real standouts.
Chasing the Dragon II: Wild Wild Bunch is not likely to win a lot of awards and far from anything original as the script is very predictable and only there to service the action points. But the performances from the main cast, who are clearly having a blast, make the film a very enjoyable film to catch on the big screen on an afternoon/evening where you just want to shut off your brain and have a fun time in the cinema.