Fong Sai Yuk II (1993)
Reviewed by: MrBooth on 2003-04-27
After the success of the original Fong Sai Yuk it was inevitable that a sequel would be produced. FSY2 carries on a little after FSY left off, with Fong Sai Yuk (Jet Li) now a junior member of the Red Flower Society. He's taken under the wing of resident coward Li Guobang (director Corey Yuen) and given special favour by the society chief (Adam Cheng). This earns him the enmity of the rebel element of the society, who seek to take control from the chief and turn the society to less patriotic ends.

Fong Sai Yuk's love interest (Michelle Reis) has followed her man, and it's not long before his mother (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong, for many the real star of FSY1) turns up to make sure her son is getting by.

When Fong Sai Yuk is sent on a mission to recover a secret box from the Japanese, he meets a beautiful governer's daughter (Amy Kwok) who falls for him. Since the box ends up in her dad's hands, Fong Sai Yuk is sent on a mission he never expected - to seduce the daughter and get the box back.

FSY2 is a little more serious than its predecessor, since Fong is now caught up in the nation's politics from the start of the film. It still spends plenty of time on comedy, however, with Josephine Siao providing most of the laughs. The film tries to squeeze in many of the elements that made the first film so popular, without simply doing a retread of the plot. It still ends up feeling rather less fresh as a result, though.

There's slightly less action in FSY2 than in FSY1, suggesting it was probably made to a tighter schedule. There's some good sequences though, with the highlights being Jet Li fighting on a river with a paralyzed Amy Kwok stuck to his back and an inventive finale.

Jet Li seems to have fun in the role, which he has often said is the character he can most identify with. The rest of the cast also fit their characters well, but for me the best performance was from Amy Kwok. This cute actress seems very talented, but appears to have been in very few movies. Perhaps she does more tv work.

The film fails to quite capture the broad spectrum of emotions that the original evoked, and doesn't provide any set piece moments that are quite as memorable. It's definitely a lesser film, but still pretty good. It's worth mentioning that this was the first HK film I saw, and it was enough to turn me into a passionate fan, so even if it doesn't hold up as well now that I've seen a lot more, it is certainly an entertaining work that shows the unique style of film-making you only get with any success in Hong Kong.

Unfortunately, Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2 have both been screwed over when it comes to DVD releases. The original releases from Universe were basically Laser Disc transfers with burnt in subtitles and poor matting. So Universe released remastered versions which are... even worse. Subtitles are removable at least, but the picture quality is dreadful - totally washed out colours and absolutely no detail, with trails absolutely rampant in darker scenes. This is nothing compared to the sound mix though, which is surely the most incompetent sound mix I've heard. New sound effects are added to the original mono with absolutely no regard to consistency and minimal effort to synchronise them with the on-screen action. Levels and pans are all over the place. This most obviously affects the action sequence, but it is bad enough to seriously rob those scenes of a large part of their impact. I can't imagine how somebody listened to this and thought "I've done my job well, I'm finished now".

The film itself gets a recommendation - 7/10 I guess - but the DVD is best avoided if possible. Unfortunately there's not much in the way of alternatives right now (the dubbed and cut US release as THE LEGEND 2 obviously isn't even worth considering) - I'm just glad to have it recorded from UK television. Even recorded long play it's a vast improvement on the DVD.
Reviewer Score: 7

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