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The White Storm 2: Drug Lords review – triad sequel makes a hash of its plot

Triad violence ripples through Hong Kong society in a second-rate import that brings frustration, agitation and fleeting highsThis sequel-in-name-only to 2013’s action-thriller The White Storm brings over from its predecessor the Hong Kong-set crime milieu, a tri-protagonist structure and just one actor (the sardonic Louis Koo, bizarrely playing an entirely different character here) for another bout of serviceable but so-so drama peppered with violence. Several of the participants are major names in Asian cinema but the actor Andy Lau will likely be the best known to western audiences, having played the underworld mole planted with the cops in the immortal Infernal Affairs trilogy, the template for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.Here Lau, working up his best mournful expression of melancholy (or perhaps just constipation), plays Yu, a mid-level gangster in a triad gang when the action starts in 2004. He is compelled by the big boss to cut off three fingers of his colleague/friend Fung (Koo), for disobeying orders not to sell drugs on his beat. Years pass, and Yu manages to leave the underworld and become a super-rich legit businessman thanks to help from his brainiac wife Chow (Karena Lam). Meanwhile Fung has become the capo and is doing a bustling trade in narcotics, creating a tide of crime that local police detective Lam (Michael Miu) struggles to stem while raising his young daughter, whose mother was killed way back by – you guessed it – a druggie. Eventually it emerges that Yu has used his wealth to order hits on the drug lords whose business has caused so much suffering. Continue reading...

This sequel-in-name-only to 2013’s action-thriller The White Storm brings over from its predecessor the Hong Kong-set crime milieu, a tri-protagonist structure and just one actor (the sardonic Louis Koo, bizarrely playing an entirely different character here) for another bout of serviceable but so-so drama peppered with violence. Several of the participants are major names in Asian cinema but the actor Andy Lau will likely be the best known to western audiences, having played the underworld mole planted with the cops in the immortal Infernal Affairs trilogy, the template for Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Here Lau, working up his best mournful expression of melancholy (or perhaps just constipation), plays Yu, a mid-level gangster in a triad gang when the action starts in 2004. He is compelled by the big boss to cut off three fingers of his colleague/friend Fung (Koo), for disobeying orders not to sell drugs on his beat. Years pass, and Yu manages to leave the underworld and become a super-rich legit businessman thanks to help from his brainiac wife Chow (Karena Lam). Meanwhile Fung has become the capo and is doing a bustling trade in narcotics, creating a tide of crime that local police detective Lam (Michael Miu) struggles to stem while raising his young daughter, whose mother was killed way back by – you guessed it – a druggie. Eventually it emerges that Yu has used his wealth to order hits on the drug lords whose business has caused so much suffering.

The state-approved message that crime – especially narcotics – is bad is none too subtly preached throughout, and naturally there’s little critique of whatever suffering might have been caused by the capitalist methods that made Yu his millions. But there is some inventiveness to the staging of action – especially a big car chase towards the end that features two coupes riding escalators down into the subway where they cause the barely remarked-on deaths of hundreds of bystanders.

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