Some three years after the original ‘Long Arm of the Law’ Michael (brother of the originals’ producer/director) Mak followed up with a sequel that sees a new set of characters from the mainland caught up with crime and cops in Hong Kong. Three recent escapees from a labour camp are caught and given a second chance to go undercover in Hong Kong to bust a notorious criminal gang. Arriving in the big city they’re put in the care of master undercover cop Biggie (Alex Man), who while antagonistic at first becomes a mentor-like figure to the crew. Yet when these would be undercover criminals get too close to the gang they’re meant to infiltrate leading to one of their ranks being brutally slain and their cover blown, the within-reach new life the group were promised is shattered in an explosion of brutal violence.
Slicker but no less brutal follow up to the genre-defining original, ‘Long Arm of the Law II’ is another hard-hitting heyday Hong Kong thriller that highlights the darker side of life while also delivering thrilling firepower. It may not have the unique feel or style of the original (akin to glossier late 80s Hong Kong action fare), but ‘Part II’ is still a tough slice of guys on the wrong side of the law finding everything going wrong fast. Solid cast and gritty location lensing lend authenticity and while the storyline does get a little muddled on occasion (due to a surfeit of characters and sub-plots) Alex Man and Elvis Tsui (as the de facto group leader of the group forced to go undercover) carry the film with their likeable and committed performances. In fact, their quiet scene where they just chat in the street enjoying a drink and a smoke once they’ve come to trust one another is a welcome (and well-acted) moment of calm in amongst the violent storm.
Again, pulling no punches when showing the violence of the criminal underworld, ‘Long Arm of the Law II’ showcases some stellar 80s era dangerous-looking stunt action and gunplay including an impressive escape from an airport and a climactic shootout (that while doesn’t top the original’s finale!) is full of bombastic firepower and fallout. The dark edge of the original is ever present leading to some unflinching scenes of brutality not least quite possibly one of the most insanely brutal torture scenes put to film – rats in a bag and all! Not for the fainthearted but for fans of hard-edged cop action films from the golden era of Hong Kong, this is tough to beat.