Movies & TV / Columns

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Kill Zone

January 2, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Kill Zone Donnie Yen

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #581: Kill Zone

Donnie Yen December: Week 3

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been in a brutal, alleyway knife fight with, well, anyone, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and eighty-one, Donnie Yen December continues with the crime flick Kill Zone, which, as far as I can tell, hit home video in the United States in earlyish September 2006.

Kill Zone


Kill Zone, also known as SPL: Kill Zone and directed and co-written by Yip Wai Shun/Wilson Yip, is an oddly compelling crime movie that, I guess, has some serious badass action scenes in it because it stars Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, and Jing Wu. If those guys weren’t in the movie (well, Simon Yam doesn’t engage in the same kind of action as the other three in the movie so maybe I shouldn’t include him in this), Kill Zone might still be an action movie but I doubt it would be the same kind of action movie. Donnie Yen, Sammo Hung, and Jing Wu bring a certain quality to a movie that other action stars wouldn’t/couldn’t.

Kill Zone stars Donnie Yen as Ma Kwan, a badass Hong Kong police inspector who is set to take over the special investigations team run by the soon-to-be-retiring Inspector Chan Kwok Chung (Simon Yam). Chung is in the midst of trying to take down the notorious triad boss Wong Po (Sammo Hung), who keeps finding a way to escape prison and justice in general. Everything Chung has tried, under the law, has failed, so his new scheme is to, basically, do whatever it takes to bring Wong Po down. And by anything, I mean anything. If Chung and his team have to fabricate evidence, they will do it. And they do. At first, Kwan isn’t totally down with Chung’s plan because Kwan wants to be an honest cop (and why would he want to engage in what amounts to illegal behavior right before taking over a special investigations squad? How does that make sense?). But Kwan eventually succumbs to, I guess, peer pressure, and joins in on the scheme. When the Hong Kong police higher ups find out what Chung and his team are up to, they are not pleased and try to shut Chung and Kwan down. Chung and Kwan will not stop, though. They’ve come too far and invested too much of their personas into destroying Wong Po and his criminal empire.

Why is Chung so hell bent on destroying Wong Po, beyond the whole “cop and criminal” thing? For one, Wong Po nearly killed Chung when Chung sent his top assassin Jack (Jing Wu) to kill a witness that was under Chung’s protection. Jack did manage to kill the witness (Jack caused a massive car accident and then, in the immediate aftermath, Jack found the witness and slit his throat) and he also orphaned the witness’s young daughter, who Chung then adopted. Chung also wants to take down Wong Po as a sort of legacy thing. Chung was diagnosed with a brain tumor and before he dies from it Chung wants to make sure that Wong Po gets the justice that he deserves.

Now, Wong Po, while being a vicious criminal, is also a devoted family man. We see him with his young wife and child and, to a degree, all Wong Po wants to do is be a family man. Yes, he has responsibilities, but to him those are secondary to his family obligations. Wong Po’s crime syndicate comes second.

And so Chung and Kwan do what they can to eliminate Wong Po’s crime business from the face of the Earth. Wong Po responds in kind, doing everything he can to prevent his world from collapsing around him. And that dichotomy is what ultimately makes Kill Zone so damn fascinating. There are no real heroes in this story, or even good guys. There are bad guys (Wong Po is a bad guy. Even when you can understand and almost sympathize with his need to protect his family you can’t get out of your head that he kills people for interfering with his business. He also has Jack on his payroll, and Jack is a vicious prick) but you can’t say that there are any true good guys in this story.

I mean, yes, you totally understand why Chung is doing what he’s doing. You totally get why he wants to do whatever it takes to eviscerate Wong Po’s syndicate. Wong Po keeps getting away with everything and even when he does go to jail he doesn’t stay there for very long. Somehow, Wong Po finds a way to escape. And when you realize that Chung adopted the daughter of someone who was killed under his protection you understand his need for revenge. But should he break the law in pursuit of those aims? Is it going to work out for him, in the end?

And Kwan just wants to start doing his job and have the respect of his soon to be team. How can he do that if his team doesn’t trust him? So when he agrees to participate in Chung’s scheme you get it, but you can also see how it could blow up in his face. Should cops take the law into their own hands? Should cops break the law in order to dispense justice?

A “no real good guys” story is hard to pull off, especially in an action movie context. The audience wants to root for someone, and if there is no one to root for, how the hell is the movie going to work? Director Wilson Yip clearly realized that the only way he was going to get the audience engaged in the movie was to find the most charismatic actors he could to be the cops and the criminals and holy hooey did he do that. Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung just exude electricity and you can’t take your eyes off of them. And having Jing Wu in the movie as a kind of “wild card” helps tremendously, too.

It’s also interesting how Donnie Yen is the top billed star but, as far as I can tell, he doesn’t play the main character. Simon Yam’s Inspector Chung is the real main character in the movie, the one that essentially drives the story. Donnie Yen is the top action star (he once again directed the action in the movie), and Sammo Hung is Sammo Hung, but Yam plays the main character. I wasn’t expecting that at all. How often do you see that kind of thing in an action movie?

The cops are all using .38’s again. I’m guessing that has to be a Hong Kong thing. I also noticed that the movie’s end credits list corporate sponsors (Budweiser is listed in the end credits). How does that work? Are those corporations actually sponsoring the movie, getting it made, providing part of the budget, or is this merely a product placement kind of thing? And how often do Hong Kong movies list corporate sponsors in the credits? American movies have product placement deals (that’s what all of the “Special Thanks” stuff is about) but I don’t think I’ve ever seen corporate logos in the end credits. Does anyone out there know what the deal is with this?

The action and fights are simply phenomenal. There are several brief fights and skirmishes throughout the movie, but the final two fights are movie events that will be burned into your brain as soon as you see them. The first fight involves Donnie Yen fighting Jing Wu in an alley, with Donnie Yen wielding a gleaming silver expandable baton and Jing Wu rocking a knife. When they come together it looks like the most dangerous weapons fight ever filmed. Are the weapons props? Probably, but at the same time, holy shit it sure as hell doesn’t seem like that when you’re watching it. Those props can’t be props, can they?

The second big fight is the showdown between Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. The fight isn’t as long as you expect an epic battle between two martial arts movie legends to be but it is truly thrilling and brutal. Every punch, kick, and body throw feels like the end of the world. And it sure as hell seems as though Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung put themselves through hell to make the final fight satisfying. The end of the fight will surprise you. I know it surprised me.

The main performances are all terrific. Donnie Yen, once again, shows why he’s a real deal movie star as Inspector Ma Kwan. Kwan isn’t much of a character, at least not until the end of the movie, but Yen makes you care about him by sheer charisma. He’s Donnie fucking Yen so you pay attention. And his action contributions are nothing short of amazing.

Simon Yam, as I said earlier, is the real star of the movie as Inspector Chung. He’s a good man who does a series of reprehensible things in order to try to achieve justice. Does he succeed? The ending will make you question whether or not he does. The ending may even break your heart. Yam doesn’t get to engage in much fighting but he doesn’t have to. He’s got three top martial artists around him to do that.

Sammo Hung does a great job as triad boss Wong Po. He’s a vicious killer and bad guy, but there’s another side to him, an almost “good guy” side to him, and Sammo does an amazing job balancing those two parts of Wong Po’s character. His final scene may break your heart, too.

And Jing Wu is terrifying as Wong Po’s assassin Jack. He’s so quick and so deadly that you tense up as soon as you see him. What is he going to do? Who is he going to kill? And how bad is he going to kill the guy he’s going to kill? His fight with Donnie Yen is, again, awe inspiring. It just looks so dangerous.

Kill Zone is a great, fascinating, weird as hell action movie. I’m surprised that it works as well as it does. It’s a movie that you need to experience at least once in your life. It will amaze even the most jaded action movie fan. Great, great stuff.

See Kill Zone. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: Briefly.

Doobage: A green looking ocean, a man walking around a beach, a rolling tide, the aftermath of a car crash, a series of tattoos, a serious car accident, throat slitting, car combat, an of screen golf club fight, food eating, coffee cup smashing in public, a “cops rounding up criminals” montage of sorts, a weird backstory moment about a punch to the head, cocaine on a guy’s face, a sort of running montage of various police raids, a guy drives head on into a tree, beach ball throwing, multiple young hoodlums, bottle throwing, cigarette throwing, a severe beating out in the country, bullet to the head, a guy smashing stuff with a baseball bat, a murder on videotape, a hospital brawl, metal pipe beating, a reunion of sorts, possible finger breaking, attempted evidence tampering, a bloody nose, a police chase, knife throwing through the arm, serious evisceration, serious throat slitting, stabbing, a bag full of money, sudden death, knife through the hand, a wicked kick to the head, an alleyway fight, nightstick vs. knife, knife rammed through the gut, slow motion bag throwing, serious knife throwing, serious table breaking, a weird phone call, serious choking, possible hand breaking, glass pyramid breaking, a man is pushed through a window, a ca crushed by a falling body, crying, shoes on the beach, and a quiet ending.

Kim Richards?: Big time.

Gratuitous: Sammo Hung, Sammo Hung as a triad boss, Simon Yam, Sammo Hung being let out of prison, Sammo Hung driving a car, police brutality, a bread insult, Donnie Yen, cops breaking up a sex and drugs orgy, cocaine on a guy’s face, feet in the water, Simon Yam making a hoodlum step on a broken glass bottle while barefoot, Donnie Yen calling Sammo Hung fatso, Donnie Yen punching a guy so hard he makes him mentally retarded, Sammo Hung walking into a hospital while carrying a giant Pink Panther stuffed animal, Sammo Hung calling his wife, Sammo Hung showing everyone who is boss despite being in police custody, people leaping from rooftop to rooftop, Donnie Yen playing video games, Capcom logo, talk about fathers, hoodlums playing soccer in public, a whole thing with sunglasses, Jing Wu, Jing Wu wielding a knife, Donnie Yen fighting Jing Wu, Sammo Hung smoking a big fucking cigar, Donnie Yen walking down a hallway in slow motion, Donnie Yen fighting Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen allowing Sammo Hung to answer his cell phone in the midst of a full scale brawl, shoes into the ocean, and a quiet ending.

Best lines: “Don’t worry, it will be over soon,” “It hurts so much! I want Mommy!,” “Inspector, do you need me to call in a tow truck?,” “Why are you sitting here, mister?,” “Mr. Wong Po, we were raided again,” “I forgot my swimsuit,” “You know what, he’s a smug bastard, isn’t he?,” “Your boots. Take them off,” “Out of my way! I want to report a crime!,” “We have to bring Wong Po in!,” “That’s right! The fat guy did it!,” “Let us finish what we started,” “You’re all dead if you try to leave here!,” “Happy Father’s Day!,” “It’s all about fate. Even if it’s for a father and daughter,” “He’s the only dealer who’s not with Wong Po,” “Joey. Are you still angry with me?,” “I ever tell you my Dad was a cop?,” and “Without your gun you’re dead.”

Rating: 9.0/10.0


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column The Facebook Page!

Please check out and “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which is here.


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!


Things to Watch Out For


Jiu Jitsu: I saw this terrific all-star sci-fi action horror flick featuring Alain Moussi, Frank Grillo, Tony Jaa, Juju Chan, Rick Yune, Marrese Crump, and Nicolas Cage, and you can check out my review for the movie here plus my interviews with star Moussi and director Dimitri Logothetis. If you’re a fan of any of the cast, or if you like weird and cool sci-fi action flicks, you’ve got to check out Jiu Jitsu. Hopefully, the movie is mega successful and leads to a franchise of some sort. There’s still plenty of stuff to be explored in the world of Jiu Jitsu.


Dragon Soldiers: This appears to be some sort of mega low budget action horror fantasy thing about a small town in America that’s attacked by a fire breathing dragon and there’s a team of elite Special Forces types that are brought in to deal with it. Sound weird? Of course it does. How often do dragons show up and attack small American towns? Could be ludicrous, or could be awesome as hell. Who knows? It’s definitely something I want to see, though.


Werewolf Island: Apparently originally known as The Legend of Dog Lady Island, the now Werewolf Island looks like one of those mega low budget horror deals about a cursed island and a guy that’s investigating the island and trying to stop the curse, etc. These kinds of movies are always hard to pull off because they rely so much on atmosphere and if the atmosphere is wrong or off the movie usually fails. I’m pulling for Werewolf Island, though, because I want to see the movie succeed. Hopefully it does. Should probably rent it.


Honest Thief: This is the new Liam Neeson action thriller that came out this past fall. I’d imagine most people missed it as movie theaters were still mostly closed at that time and the movie wasn’t available On Demand. I see that Robert Patrick and Jeffrey Donovan and Kate Walsh are in it, to, which is cool, but the presence of Jai Courtney gives me serious pause. It’s still a Neeson action flick, though, so it’s something I should probably make an effort to see. He seems to be playing a retired thief of sorts who gets caught up with two scumbag FBI agents and all hell breaks loose. Just how much ass kicking does Neeson do in it? That’s always one of the draws for these movies, isn’t it? Anyone out there see this?


Next Issue: Donnie Yen December concludes with Special I.D.!


Check out my Widow’s Point set visit!

Read it here!



Most Recent Interviews

Steve Latshaw
Rick Hurst
Douglas Burke
Jeff Farley
Fred “The Hammer” Williamson
Nico Sentner
Everett Ray Aponte
Max Martini
Tom Huckabee
Jason Kellerman
David Tarleton
Roxy Shih
Jesse V. Johnson
Tamas Nadas (2)
Jesse Thomas Cook
Adam Seybold
Liv Collins
Bryan C. Winn
Jeffrey Combs
Ezra Tsegaye
Alexander Nevsky(4)
Sebastian Wolf
Dana Gould
Janet Varney
Richard Brake
Steven Lambert
Rolfe Kanefsky
Robert Donavan
Lukas Hassel
Jessica Morris
Daniel Roebuck (2)
Clint Carney
Marco Siedelmann (2)
Sam Firstenberg (2)
Tamas Nadas (3)
Rene Perez
Lou Ferrigno
Lorenzo Pisoni
Sam Farmer
Craig Fairbrass
Anita Nicole Brown
Domenic Migliore
Michael Bugard
Alexander T. Hwang
Nicole Cinaglia
Eden Shea Beck
Brooklyn Haley
Amanda Iswan
Myron Ward
Parry Shen
Garo Setian
M.J. Bassett
Rickey Bird, Jr.
Carl Nicita
Sadie Katz
Brian Skiba
Jeff J. Knight
Brian Skiba
Rolfe Kanefsky (2)
Jessica Morris (2)
Sarah French
Alexander Nevsky (5)
Rob Kutner and Jonathan Kesselman
Gregory Lamberson
Michael McCartney
Angelique Sabrina White
Jack Shulruff
David Meyers
Dimitri Logothetis
John Suits
Alain Moussi
Liam O’Donnell


Follow me on Twitter!


Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Kill Zone

Donnie Yen– Ma Kwan
Simon Yam– Chan Kwok Chung
Sammo Hung– Wong Po
Jing Wu– Jack
Kai Chi Liu– Lok Kwun Wah
Danny Summer– Kwok Tsz Sum
Ken Chang– Lee Wai Lok
Austin Wai– Cheung Chun Fei

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Wilson Yip (as Yip Wai Shun)
Screenplay by Wilson Yip (as Yip Wai Shun) and Kam-Yuen Szeto (as Szeto Kam Yuen) and Wai Lung Ng (as Ng Wai Lun)

Distributed by Dragon Dynasty

Not Rated
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here