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Film / Sha Po Lang

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SPL: Sha Po Lang (Chinese: 殺破狼, released in the United States as Kill Zone) is a 2005 Hong Kong action film written and directed by Wilson Yip (Yip Wai-shun), and starring Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Wu Jing and Simon Yam. The film was released in Hong Kong on 18 November 2005. Yam portrays Chan Kwok-chung, a retiring police detective who resorts to the use of questionable methods in order to catch Wong Po (Hung), a ruthless triad boss, before he dies of a brain tumor. Donnie Yen plays Ma Kwun, Chan's protege, who will inherit the case against Wong after Chan dies.

It was followed by Sha Po Lang II: A Time For Consequences in 2015, which starred Wu Jing and Tony Jaa as the heroes.

Not to be confused with the Chinese danmei novel Sha Po Lang.

This film exhibits the following tropes:

  • Acrofatic: Despite his girth, Wong Po is very quick and can do multiple wrestling moves. Given who plays the guy, this was all but inevitable.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Especially towards the end when Wong throws Ma Kwun off the building and on his car, killing not only Ma, but Wong's family as well.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In a sense, as Wong Po, the criminal kingpin survives while the hero, Ma Kwun dies. Subverted, as even though he won the fight and lived, he also killed his beloved family in the process, so good luck telling him that he's the winner.
  • Car Cushion: Ma Kwun lands on a car after his Destination Defenestration. Unusual for the trope, neither the person falling nor the people in the car survive.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Ma Kwun appears to be performing Wuxia-like stunts in his fight against Wong Po and also displays incredible strength when he throws him.
  • Destination Defenestration: The ultimate fate of Ma Kwun, courtesy of Big Bad Wong Po.
  • Distress Ball: Inspector Chan, after having three of his four men get killed by Jack, takes on Wong Po all by his lonesome. While he does a fair job of blowing away his mooks, Jack takes him down easily and Wong Po captures him, forcing Ma into the final showdown with both men.
  • Downer Ending: No matter who you're rooting for, they lose. Not only does the hero die, even though this is nominally a case of The Bad Guy Wins, the fact that his victory causes the death of his beloved family means that he ends the film worse than he started. Given that the name of the film, Sha Po Lang, refers to a constellation of stars that are considered particularly inauspicious in Chinese Astrology, and that to be ruled by these stars is to be destined for disaster, tragedy was on the table from the jump.
  • The Dragon: Jack, who is played by Wu Jing.
  • Dramatic Irony: Wong Po's impulsive attempt to kill Ma Kwun results in him also killing his wife and child, who were waiting outside the building he was in.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: One of the dirty tactics that Chan's team uses to take down Wong.
  • The Hero Dies: Ma Kwun is killed by the fall onto Wong's car.
  • Imagine Spot: Chan imagining himself shooting Wong Po with a Boom, Headshot! early in the film.
  • The Last Dance: Chan is determined to take Wong down before he dies.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: Prior to his final confrontation against Wong, Ma (who plays second fiddle as Chan's lancer) takes on Wong's subordinate and dragon, Jack, in an extensive one-on-one Duel to the Death. It ends with the lancer disemboweling the dragon.
  • Lawman Baton: Ma's favored weapon is a telescoping baton.
  • Manipulative Editing: Inspector Chan and his crew uses this method to make it look like Wong Po had whacked one of his own men to death with a shovel.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: During the alley fight, Ma Kwan manages to beat the knife-wielding assassin Jack bloody with his steel baton, but is unable to finish him and Jack manages to strip him of his weapon. When Jack attacks the unarmed Kwan, Kwan grabs his knife, twists it around, and guts Jack like a fish.
  • Precision Crash: When Ma Kwun is thrown out of a window at the end of the movie, his body lands on the car holding Wong Po's wife and child, killing them instantly.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: Jack does most of his killings with his tanto knife.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Wong Po defeats Ma Kwun by sending him right out a window... right onto the Wong family's waiting car with Po's beloved child and wife still inside, killing all three of them.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Wong Po is considerably tougher than his chosen assassin, Jack.
  • Red Filter of Doom: The red filter is used when Jack kills the witness and kicks off the plot.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Inspector Ma Kwun, armed with an extendable baton, fights Jack, who is armed with a knife. Eventually Kwun drops his baton, overpowers Jack and manages to stab Jack with his own knife while Jack himself was still holding it.
  • Wire Fu: Ma Kwun starts doing this more often by the time he's done fighting Wong Po. His 180 degree throw of Wong Po into a counter full of bottles stands out in its use.

Alternative Title(s): Kill Zone