A psychopathic organ trafficker, a psychic Muay Thai cop and a desperate father out for revenge — I saw Paradox at the Rio Theatre during the Vancouver International Film Festival. Directed by Wilson Yip, this adrenaline-filled Hong Kong action film is quite a ride!
Due to a scheduling conflict, I walked into Paradox with absolutely no prior knowledge of its plot. I hadn’t even seen the poster. In an ideal world, this is how I would approach every viewing experience, but that would be its own paradox.
Paradox stars Louis Koo as Lee Ching-chi, a hard-boiled Hong Kong police negotiator searching for his missing daughter in Bangkok, where he is joined by two local detectives, Chui Kit (Wu Yue) and Tak (Tony Jaa). The film is the third installment in the successful Sha Po Lang series directed by Yip, though each installment is also stand-alone film.
Littered with edge-of-your-seat action courtesy of Action Director, Sammo Hung, Paradox is a thrilling, dark mystery which breaks a fair few tropes from the martial arts genre. Prepare to witness unabashed gore in and out of action scenes, with a sense of grim hopelessness reminiscent of Park Chan-wook’s Korean The Vengeance Trilogy.
Louis Koo’s performance stood out as the distraught yet unapologetically dangerous father, with outstanding stunt work and combat scenes by Muay Thai star, Tony Jaa.
Some dramatic tension and seriousness is broken by the comically villainous performance of Chris Collins as the English speaking, American organ trafficker. At times, it bordered on the ludicrous. That being said, Collins’ action performance was on par with the rest of the cast. I found myself hating his character more than his performance, which marks as a success in my book.
If you like murder mysteries, I would definitely recommend this film. If you like martial arts films, then Paradox is a must see. If you’re squeamish, or like myself, have a phobia of needles and medical horror, err on the side of caution. All in all, Paradox was a great round off to an excellent festival.