Continuing directly where its predecessor ended, ‘New Kung Fu Cult Master 2’ follows Zhang Wuji as he comes to terms with his place in the martial world. Having saved his clan, Zhang must now negotiate with his rivals, all of whom are attempting to unify the Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre. Bringing the two weapons together promises to make the owners unbeatable and potentially disrupt the martial world forevermore. Zhang also has to juggle the relationships he has with the three women in his life, Zhou Zhiruo, Xiao Zhao and Zhao Mon, as each vies for his attention. Xiao Zhou is especially conflicted as she has been tasked with getting close to Zhang Wuji for the sake of her clan but has now fallen in love with him, something forbidden by her all-female clan.
So much happens in ‘New Kung Fu Cult Master 2’ and yet so little happens too. What certainly doesn’t happen – much to this reviewer’s chagrin – is any attempt to tie up all of the plot threads that were left dangling at the end of the last part. Once again, the attempt to condense such a vast world of intrigue and subterfuge into just two films is shown to be quixotic at best. Naturally, the responsibility for the second part to resolve at least some of the plot points created at the end of the last film weighs particularly heavily on it.
Again, the production team should be commended; ‘New Kung Fu Cult Master 2’ is a beautiful spectacle, whether it is the costume and set design, special effects or bevy of warrior women in the foreground. Zhang Wuji is given the unenviable task of choosing between the trio of admiring beauties, but quickly discovers that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. This is the focus of the sequel and because of this, the follow-up lacks the excitement of the first part. There are, as expected, double-crosses, triple-crosses and hidden motives aplenty, with the last thirty minutes being especially packed with betrayals and deus ex machina. As mentioned in my review of the first film, if you are a fan of the dense and confusing tropes of Wu Xia, these are much less bothersome, but I can only imagine what a newcomer to the genre thinks when they sit down to watch this.
‘New Kung Fu Cult Master 2’ lacks the set-pieces to push it through the slower moments; one thing the first part had was the ability to throw the viewer a multi-coloured distraction, hyper-kinetic action scene when the pace began to slacken. It’s watchable (though don’t dare take your eyes off it for a moment or you’ll miss at least three dramatic revelations) and confidently put together, but satisfying as a conclusion to the big story it is not.