Paradox, the third film in the famed Chinese action franchise SPL, was my twentieth and final film I saw at the 37th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival presented by Halekulani. I was privy to the director’s other work before seeing this film, most notably the Ip Man films starring Donnie Yen. Yet, I was unaware of the SPL series when I sat down for my screening of Paradox. Let me say, this film has reinvigorated my love for Chinese action cinema. Admittedly, I have not seen many of these films, and perhaps the best film of this type that I have seen is the original Oldboy, but Paradox is definitely the best film of this sub-genre that I have seen since that classic South Korean tale of revenge. To speak frankly, I will find whatever time I do have and watch the many other acclaimed works from both this series, as well as director Wilson Yip.
The film centers around two cops, one of which travels to Thailand to find his missing daughter. From the point when these two people meet, the action hardly ever stops, and to say the least, the action put onscreen here is absolutely insane. I have hardly ever had such a big smile on my face, or muttered as many expletives as I have while watching Paradox. While the action is easy to follow for the most part, the editing can be a little hyperactive at times, but this is a very minor complaint in what is otherwise a well-constructed package of violence and choreography. Speaking of which, films like this make me upset that there is not a specific category in Awards shows (ex. the Oscars and Golden Globes) for stunt men and choreography, because the work being performed by choreographers and stunt people in films like Paradox is truly exemplary.
In terms of other problems I had with the film, again, they are minor. The plot is fairly predictable at points, the story is convoluted, and the acting is, at times, cheesy. To me, these add to the charm of these films, and for me, are things that I do not watch these films for. When I go to see films like Paradox, I want to be entertained, first and foremost, and almost exclusively by extremely fit Asian men beating each other up and performing impossible physical feats of flexibility. In this way, Paradox over-performed my expectations, and it was a thrilling and fitting end to my first film festival experience.