Paradox is the third film in the SPL trilogy: Part 1 – Kill Zone – was released in 2005. Part 2 – A Time for Consequences – appeared some time later in 2015. For anyone interested in watching Paradox but concerned about having missed the first two films, the good news is that this film isn’t actually connected to either of them. Indeed, none of them are connected. Some cast members even returned for Part 2 in different roles to the ones they played in Part 1. It put me in mind of the movie Ghosthouse – If ever you want to have your mind blown by the vagaries of movie titling and the random attribution of sequels, Ghosthouse is a solid starting point. – So, to sum up, Paradox is the third film in a trilogy in which none of the films have anything whatsoever to do with each other. At least the Cornetto Trilogy had an ice-cream motif running through it.
The film is centred around Hong Kong policeman and over-protective father, Lee Chung Chi (Louis Koo). His daughter feels she has little freedom at home, decides to take a powder to Thailand and, inevitably, goes missing. It’s a familiar plot – not so very different from the likes of Taken. It’s full of holes, of course, as all good action films should be. Nobody walks into an action film with the expectation of later discussions about intriguing plot points and unexpected twists. Paradox is the kind of film where the first conversation that follows is about who liked which fight best. And there’s are plenty to choose from.
As with Bryan Mills in Taken, Chung Chi necessarily has a services background in order to facilitate his…well, his particular set of skills. And boy, what skills they are. Chung Chi is fierce, resilient, and super-humanly expeditious in a brawl. In fact, everyone who gets involved in a fight is a martial arts master. The fight scenes are slick, exciting, plentiful – if sometimes quite protracted on the grounds that everyone involved is dan-ranked – and are among the best I’ve ever witnessed (and I grew up on a healthy diet of Van Damme and Seagal). There’s an early scene in which Chung Chi gets into a fight and basically uses another guy as a weapon. It’s brilliantly staged. Later sequences involving a plant pot and the scramble to rescue a thrown-child push believability to its limits, but are still hugely entertaining. Sammo Hung earned the film a well-deserved award for Best Action Choreography.
Paradox was actually nominated for a slew of awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography. It’s not overly-long at a little over 90 minutes, and while some fights do seem to go on and on and on, you hardly notice it because the action on screen is so frenetic and noisy (it won an award for Best Sound Design, too). Nobody gets bored watching Paradox, there simply isn’t time for it.
There’s an exquisite moment in which some children witness one of the many fights, and are sort of miming along to it. It reminded me of watching those early Van Damme and Seagal films as a kid (at an age when I had no business watching such things). That made me chuckle. In a film with few laughs, that was definitely a lighter moment in amongst the punching and kicking and throwing.
As a final thought, I have to say: watching two people in hot pursuit, slipping over on a freshly mopped floor and clumsily resuming the chase, is probably my favourite moment in an action film since the pool table scene at the end of Hard to Kill. Wilson Yip‘s Paradox is an absolute blast, and for those uninitiated in the ways of Hong Kong action cinema, this is a great entry point into the genre.
Paradox comes to DVD on 21st January 2019 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Pre-order now: https://amzn.to/2GzRXZa