Paradox is a glorious example of the art of martial arts as well as a hard-hitting philosophy lesson.
Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD in the Western market, Paradox is an action thriller from director Wilson Yip (Ip Man Trilogy) in collaboration with legendary action director Sammo Hung. The film is about a Hong Kong police negotiator who Lee Chung-chi (Louis Koo) and his search for his missing 16-year-old daughter who has gone missing in Pattaya, Thailand. In Thailand, Lee receives assistance from local Chinese detective Chui Kit (Wu Yue) and his Thai colleague Tak (Tony Jaa). Together, they uncover clues and discover a larger conspiracy involving the dying mayoral candidate of Bangkok, and an organ harvesting ring ran by American gangster Sacha (Chris Collins).
The movie, for broad stroke purposes, is very similar to Taken. A very capable father uses his considerable skills to find his daughter in a foreign country where the government has a hand in the operation that resulted in the daughter’s disappearance. Father pieces together clues and beats the information out of people. In the grand scheme of things it is very similar. However, there are bigger twists and much harder hitting situations in Paradox, which powerfully represent the title.
Paradox is much darker and more action-oriented. Taken takes a surgical approach to the situation, Paradox takes a sledgehammer to it; literally in one case. What I really enjoyed about Paradox is the direct and action-oriented protagonist, Lee. Lee is in emotional distress, he had a fight with his daughter which drove her to her trip to Thailand where she is now missing. His daughter is the only person left in his life, as his wife passed away in a car crash. He has no one else, and he put the only person he loves in unimaginable danger. He doesn’t care about what’s in his way, or who’s in his way, and he will not stop. The big difference between Lee and Bryan is Lee goes public with the information. Which didn’t seem to help much overall, but I like how he made a big deal because, in a situation like this, I think emotions would likely outweigh calculations. There is also the movie’s title, and final act that are incredibly succinct, but I don’t want to talk about as it will give it away. I will say, it is a cruel world.
Where Paradox really shines, is in its fight scenes and action sequences. Tony Jaa is one of the most amazing martial artists on the planet, as proven in Ong Bak and numerous other films. He’s been given some roles in Western films, but never anything that really highlights his abilities. Paradox gives him some moments to shine, but really showcase Louis Koo’s and Wu Yue’s equally impressive talent. Their completely natural flow free-running makes it look like jumping over tables and railings is something anyone can do. Sammo Hung’s influence can be greatly felt through the resourcefulness the actors used in their scenes. Anything and everything can be used and incorporated into a fight, and they did. The part that impresses me most about the fight scenes is the use of redirecting momentum. Say a person is uppercutted into a flip, the uppercutted person would use the flip to kick the uppercutter in the face, or if a person had their arm twisted, they would flow with the twist to regain footing. The fighting had an incredible flow that went in every direction, yet was still perfectly shot and didn’t rely on rapid cuts to distort or distract viewers.
The Blu-Ray extras take you behind the scenes of the story and the process but don’t offer anything particularly unique. If you’re a features fiend, there’s nothing that makes the Blu-Ray worth owning. If you’re like me and really into the filmmaking process, it’s worthed, otherwise, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. No deleted scenes or anything like that. The film can be viewed subbed, or dubbed, which is nice. I personally recommend the subbed version because the dub voices do not do the story or actors justice. It feels kind of phoned in. It also really bugs me when an infant is obviously voiced by an adult doing a pre-teen voice.
Paradox is an epic action martial arts movie that will excite any who enjoy the genre. The action and fights are truly incredible and awe-inspiring while also complementary to the story. It doesn’t feel like a story was shoehorned in between fight scenes or vice-versa. It feels completely organic and innate to the world, which is incredible considering how phenomenal the fights and action sequences are. If you isolate just the fights and action, it would obviously be an incredibly choreographed scene, but in the context of the film it feels like normal (albeit law enforcement) people are all capable of incredible physical feats. If you liked Taken and enjoy action/martial arts, I highly recommend watching Paradox. If you’re into watching the behind the scenes process of making such a film, I would also recommend the film, because there aren’t many films that reach this caliber of action and polish and what better way to be inspired than getting an in-depth look at to how it was made. I give the film a 4/5 and the Blu-Ray and DVD content a 2.5/5. Watching the movie something I highly recommend, owning the Blu-Ray and DVD isn’t something that enhances the experience unless you’re interested in the filmmaking process. It also doesn’t come with a digital copy so there’s not much-added incentive to own it on physical media.