On this mission, failure is not an option
The supposed, but not really, sequel to Jet Li's Meltdown (also known as High Risk) finds Zhao Wen Zhuo as a supercop with a less than intimidating name: Arthur Dong. But will abundant action and vivid violence give Mr. Dong the clout he needs to strike fear in the souls of evildoers, or will he just have to seek employment in straight-to-video adult forays?
Facts of the Case
Things begin with a blast here, as Officer Dong infiltrates a hijacked airliner and cleanses it of its terrorist scum—at the cost of his partner. Haunted by this loss, and feeling betrayed by his superiors, Officer Dong accepts an assignment to escort the Chinese ambassador to the fictional Eastern European country of Larvernia (whose neighbor is Shirleyslovakia?).
There, Officer Dong and company run into the psychotic, Messianic figure Keizo Mishima (Andrew Lin) who looks to purge the world of his personal infidels. Officer Dong and Mishima meet by accident, and engage in over-the-top fisticuffs, leading to the arrest and incarceration of Mishima.
However, it isn't long before Mishima's followers hatch a plan to spring him out, and Officer Dong finds himself thrown in the middle of a full-blown bonanza of bullets and butt-kicking—leading him to the ultimate showdown with Mishima, where only one man will…you get the picture.
The first Meltdown was part action and part farcical romp. This Meltdown is all action. Again, though, these two movies aren't really original and sequel, only branded as such by the studio. Regardless of the semantics, the true question is this: does Another Meltdown deliver the goods to its intended audience? Well, if that audience is comprised of Hong Kong kung-fu fans and connoisseurs of graphic violence, then, yeah, I think it will.
Zhao Wen Zhuo has moves, and is liberal in dishing out the punishment to goons aplenty. And he gets oodles of screen time to do so; the movie is a mere 92 minutes long, but there are six big action set pieces interlaced throughout. And I'm not talking about brief shots of Officer Dong throwing a punch or two; each sequence is fairly extensive, particularly the final showdown, where the two nemeses go head-to-head for a long, long time, despite stabbings, strangulations, and a few rounds to the chest and groin from a helicopter-mounted minigun. Oh, did I mention to suspend your disbelief for the film's entirety? Case in point: check out the end of the subway fight, where Mishima and Officer Dong are duking it out at the back of the train, which is moving along at a fast clip, and Mishima's head collides with a steel support beam and he comes away from it looking pretty good—hey, maybe he is the Messiah!
Apart from surviving guaranteed decapitations, Mishima proves himself a pretty adept foe, single-handedly beating the rutabagas out of some would-be prison rapists. Meanwhile, Officer Dong runs into his old flame, Tammy (played by Qi Shu, of The Transporter) in a subplot that goes absolutely nowhere. If you're investing in this disc, it's not to see a love story anyway, but this relationship really yields zilch. Like most kung-fu movies, these love dynamics are just filler in between the action.
So, fast-forward to the money sequences, and you get some rooftop brawling, numerous gunshot wounds, geysers of blood, some truly incredible stunts (one guy does a fall from the top of a bridge, to a back-flop into a river—crazy!!), snapped necks, a hostage stand-off, corrupt politicians, at least five misfired rocket propelled grenades, and a terrifically drawn-out end fight sequence.
This of course leads us to the inevitable question: so how is the End Bad-Guy's Death (E.B.D.)? The EBD, if cool enough, in my opinion can push an action movie up a couple of rungs, and if lame, knock it down a few. Well, on a scale of one to ten DZ's (Drop Zones, named after the sub-par Wesley Snipes movie that features what I consider the greatest End Bad-Guy Death of all time—the poor schmuck falls from skyscraper, and before splatting on the pavement, gets hit by a truck!), Another Meltdown gets a seven.
The film comes in a 1:85:1 widescreen version presentation. The colors flicker a bit, but overall, it's as decent a transfer as these recycled Eastern flicks get. The sound is a pretty potent Digital 5.1 mix; some gunfire scenes really use the back surrounds to the fullest.
Special features are typically threadbare for this sort of release, with trailers for this film along with a few others, and a photo gallery.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The action is all and good, but the story is a real joke. And it is possible to have good plots in these kung-fu flicks (see Jet Li's masterpiece Fist of Legend). Shu Qi's presence is pointless, and there's a hint of political corruption and ethnic cleansing, but it's so faint it becomes distracting.
For martial arts action meets blazing gun battles, one can do worse than Another Meltdown. However, if it's compelling story and plot movement you're looking for, you'd do better hitting up the local elementary school and catching the spring presentation of Scooby-Doo and the Mystery of the Haunted Pumpkin.
Officer Dong and his compatriots are free to beat the living snot out of each other, much to the amusement of the courtroom.
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