SPL 2 Approved For Production By Chinese Government

Associate Editor, Features; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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SPL 2 Approved For Production By Chinese Government
Some big news coming in from China by way of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, better known over here by their catchy acronym SAPPRFT or, for broadcasted and theatrically released entertainment, SARFT.

Often described as the Chinese censorship board, any film produced in Mainland China first has to be approved by SARFT. Which means that their monthly publication of approved titles is a nice heads-up on what is being planned over there. According to Kevin Ma over at Filmbiz Asia, this month's list includes at least one very hot item: production company Sil-Metropole Organisation Limited has been given license to make SPL 2, a thematic sequel to Wilson Yip's 2005 film Sha Po Lang.

This is big, BIG news. The original Sha Po Lang, which starred Donnie Yen, Simon Yam and a bigger-than-ever Sammo Hung, was arguably the most popular film here at ScreenAnarchy that year. It did wonders to revive interest in both the Hong Kong film industry and Chinese martial arts movies.

The film built up to an epic fight between Donnie yen and Sammo Hung, with Donnie at his fittest ever and Sammo at his scariest. The awesome sequence did not disappoint and had only one thing against it really: it was preceded by an even better one. In what is still probably one of the (if not THE) best filmed weapons fights in history, Donnie Yen and Wu Jing squared off against each other in an alleyway for a baton-vs-knife duel. Hence the screenshot above.

Sha Po Lang (released Stateside on DVD as --barf-- Kill Zone) was a big success worldwide. Rumors and plans for a sequel have been around for years, and Wilson Yip's Flashpoint, again starring Donnie Yen, is generally assumed to be a prequel, no matter how often this is denied by both Wilson and Donnie.

But now, this is a pretty damn solid piece of evidence that something is happening. No word on who will direct it yet, but Donnie Yen is mentioned to star, and Jill Leung (Revenge: A Love story) is attached as one of the writers.

To be continued!
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QinlongAugust 8, 2013 6:35 AM

Wasn't it mentionned at some point that Tony Jaa was to be in it ?

cuttermaranAugust 8, 2013 6:57 AM

"... still probably one of the (if not THE) best filmed weapons fights in history..."
Watch more movies dude!

QinlongAugust 8, 2013 7:13 AM

To be fair the punishing speed of execution, realistic and semi-improvised feel of the choreography, and intense dramatic build-up to that fight make it one for the ages.

Sunwukong88August 8, 2013 7:24 AM

It was close enough. At least it was shot beautifully and not shaky camera + fast cuts.

Ard VijnAugust 8, 2013 7:40 AM

I'm open to any suggestions and will be VERY happy to be proven wrong!

hutchAugust 8, 2013 8:33 AM

Kinda sorta has to be a pre-quel, right? I never knew which ending was the "real" one.

Hiroaki JohnsonAugust 8, 2013 9:48 AM

I'd love to hear what you have in mind, but people still talk about that alley fight almost 10 years later. I think it's a classic.

Ivo BritoAugust 8, 2013 9:48 AM

Definitely agree that is one of the best, but, if some one but a katana to my neck and force me to choose one, it as to be the City of Violence(2006) knife scene near the end of the movie, with Ryo Seung-wan and Jung Doo-Hong struggling to survive.

Hiroaki JohnsonAugust 8, 2013 9:52 AM

There was a rumor years ago that the SPL prequel would feature Jet, Wu Jing's character very heavily. But I think that turned into Fatal Move or Contact or something. Yen's Detective Ma definitely died when he fell on the car.

hutchAugust 8, 2013 10:04 AM

I heard they had an alternate ending where he didn't die. I never knew which was "official". But I've only seen the "everyone gets their shit fucked up" ending.

Hiroaki JohnsonAugust 8, 2013 10:18 AM

Huh, never heard that. But some quick googling turns up that the mainlaind china version is censored and cuts off the end 5 minutes. I think the "real" one is the dark one, it's what seems to play in HK and every other market.

hutchAugust 8, 2013 1:30 PM

Ironically it seems that the censored ending allowed for easier transition for a sequel.

johnnieAugust 8, 2013 7:11 PM

both are really well directed, top notch action movies.

cuttermaranAugust 8, 2013 7:36 PM

There are lot of classics which seems to be forgotten.

Speed and creative use of camera angles:
(Tai Chi Master)

and this is what I call intensity:
(Duel to the Death)

and there are many more:
(End swordfight in Kitamuras Versus, Jet Lis Stick fight in Once Upon A Time In Chine 1, even Iko Uwais Knife Fight in The Raid are to be remembered)

I personally never got into the SPL hype. Most of Donnies movies before that (The New Big Boss, City of Darkness, Ballistic Kiss- to name a few) were pretty terrible. Still Donnie is a fine performer as Jacky Wu is one. The confrontation between both of them lives from their charisma, not the choreography or intensinty. Please watch the fight again, you will notice, little is there to be admired besides a few cool knife moves from Wu Jing. At least in my opinion. And yes, I like a well choreographed fight, shot from unusual camera angles with intense editing and camera movement.
I want to feel the drive of action, not watching a demo reel of stunts. The SPL Donnie VS. Wu Jing Fight is alright, but nothing special. I wish for a rematch.

tman418August 8, 2013 8:28 PM

It wouldn't surprise me if he was being seriously considered for a role at the time. But given his behavior and performance with Ong Bak 2 & 3, I don't think he's being considered anymore.

tman418August 8, 2013 9:18 PM

SPL was very good, but I feel it was a bit overrated. The fight scene between Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung was quite underwhelming, but the preceding fight scene was done quite nicely.

Btw, there's something about the 1st movie that bothered me. So, the fat kid videotapes the murder of the undercover cop. It shows Sammo Hung beating him with a golf club, followed by a lackey fatally shooting him (This also makes Sammo Hung one of the first movie criminals to actually NOT trust the new guy in the crew. You know? The one who joins the gang and all of a sudden the police are 100% more efficient at foiling them).

So the cops edit the tape so that it supposedly "looks like" Sammo Hung was the one who actually killed the cop (btw, I would have liked to have seen what the "edited" tape actually looked like). But when a copy of the unedited tape makes its way to the police, Sammo Hung is immediately let go without any charges filed against him.

Now, I know that many places in the world (including some U.S. states) have a "trigger man" rule, in which you must directly commit a murder to be considered for the death penalty. But that's only for sentencing, usually. And the video tape clearly puts Sammo Hung at the scene of the crime, and definitely an assault charge and accessory to murder. So why did Sammo Hung get to leave jail without any legal repercussions? Did Hong Kong (at the time the movie takes place) have such a strict "trigger man" law that you couldn't even be charged with murder if you didn't directly commit it? Does not being the trigger man completely absolve you of the crime in Hong Kong?

supershinobiAugust 9, 2013 3:54 AM

Donnie Vs Wu Jing was good, but doesn't touch this classic scene in my eyes! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

cuttermaranAugust 9, 2013 5:52 AM

@ supershinobi

Yeah right, this one was talked about when Donnie was mentioned as an action star at all. The fight has a great dramatic build up and could be considered as a short film on its own.

Hiroaki JohnsonAugust 9, 2013 10:35 AM

I've seen all of those, and would probably include Man from Nowhere in that list. But they're pretty much all stylistically entirely different than what SPL was doing. People liking the fight is not necessarily a case of ignorance as it is taste.

SenhAugust 12, 2013 3:41 PM

Believe it or not, SPL was actually not a box office hit. When it was released in HK, it only made about $7M HK (about $1M US). And back then, China wasn't a huge market yet. For comparisons sake, Ip Man made about $28M HK and the sequel did about $44M HK. It's getting a sequel mainly because of Yen's current A-list status and notices from action fans around the world, but in terms of dollars and cents, it wasn't a huge money-maker.