Tiger on the Beat 2 (1990)
Director: Lau Kar-Leung
Writers: Cheung Lai-Ling and Kelvin Wong
Starring: Danny Lee, Conan Lee, and Ellen Chan

The Plot: In this sequel to Tiger on Beat, we follow police officer Sgt. Lam Yik Lim (Danny Lee) as he is tasked with finding a wife for his nephew Buffalo (Conan Lee). Buffalo has come to Hong Kong from The United States and often finds himself getting into trouble, which gets his uncle in trouble by proxy. Almost as soon as Buffalo gets off the boat, he finds himself in a bar fight while trying to protect a young woman named Sweet Dream (Ellen Chan). Unknown to Buffalo, this young woman is a hustler who ultimately leaves him hanging out to dry once the police arrive. Soon after this, Sweet Dream ends up as the witness to a murder, but because of her reputation as a thief/hustler, no one believes her. That doesn’t stop the triads from putting a price on her head. As Sweet Dream tries to evade the numerous killers that are now on her trail, she teams up with Buffalo who still doesn’t believe her story – but is slowly falling for the young woman. Before long, Buffalo and Sgt. Lim are both in the middle of a personal war against these violent triads.

The Review
Although rarely brought up these days, Tiger on Beat has to rank very high among the list of Hong Kong films that genuinely perfected the blend between action and comedy. This list, mostly dominated by Jackie Chan, is more often than not filled with martial arts comedies. However, Tiger on Beat was that rare mix between the then-hot heroic bloodshed genre and the conventions of the kung fu comedy. The film took THE face of this heroic bloodshed movement, Chow Yun-Fat, and paired him up with a burgeoning young star named Conan Lee. Lee was the brute of this duo, playing the straight man to Chow Yun-Fat’s wildly charismatic (and wacky) character. To describe Conan Lee, you can’t help but compare his features to Jackie Chan. Only, picture Jackie Chan with the physique of Lo Meng (the muscleman from Five Deadly Venoms), and you start to get an idea. However, Conan Lee unfortunately lacked the comedic timing and wild charisma that inevitably made Jackie Chan a household name. Still, he’s an interesting actor within the history of Hong Kong cinema, and there’s no doubt that he becomes instantly recognizable to any person who ever saw the original Tiger on Beat. That original film was a rollercoaster of imaginative ideas being put into action, and the project was safeguarded by Chow Yun-Fat’s immense persona. After Chow departed though, the question became: can Conan Lee carry this series? In Tiger on the Beat 2 (apparently there was a “the” added to the title for this sequel), we find out. Moving to an all new set of characters, the film is a sequel in name only. Conan Lee gets to stand and deliver as both the force that once again delivers the hard hits, but also the main presence for which the entire movie rests upon. Truly, the results are actually hard to argue with. This movie delivers.

As has already been mentioned, this is a sequel to Tiger on Beat in name only. Things are drastically different this time around, but in some ways the movie ventures into familiar territories. Danny Lee steps into a role that is quite reminiscent of the character that Chow Yun-fat played in the original film. While Lee is no playboy like Chow’s character was, he certainly has a similar sense of manic charisma that Chow demonstrated in the first movie. He is also playing against type, similar to Chow. Lee is known for his charming, but suave/serious, police officer characters, but this time out he demonstrates a much sillier demeanor. While seeing Danny Lee playing yet another cop is enough to make you roll your eyes a little bit, he definitely manages to make this role seem unique. Although the movie has its problems in terms of innovation, the film does do a lot of things right. Most of all, compiling this cast was essential to the success of the movie. Sure enough, finding the right replacement for Chow Yun-fat was essential. Although Danny doesn’t do the job in a way that outshines the original movie, he helps hold the film together. This is Danny Lee at his most animated, and that can be both good and bad. This ultimately leaves Conan Lee to be the straight man within most of the movie. Sometimes this dynamic works, sometimes it does not. Things get a bit chaotic though when it seems that even Conan Lee is ready to jump into the comedy. He plays a character who has a heart that is bigger than his brain, and so this of course leads to many misadventures. He is shown to be very respectful and courteous to the women in his life, but is unable to spot when someone is taking advantage of him or even when a group of killers are doing evil right in front of him.

Although the original Tiger on Beat may best be remembered for its intense action, we must keep in mind that a considerable amount of its running time was dedicated to the comedic banter spent with the main characters. Tiger on the Beat 2 ultimately follows the same patter, but when the action DOES hit, it is insane. Conan Lee and the crew act as if this is their last film and they’re willing to put everything on the line. There is one stunt in the movie that has outlived the legacy of the film itself, and I am sure many readers are already well aware of it. In the scene, Conan Lee jumps from a bridge and intends to grab a street light in the midst of a daring chase sequence. This takes place at a height that is over two stories, it would appear. Unfortunately, things went wrong during the stunt, and Conan ended up slipping from the light pole. This led to him falling flat to the concrete below, shattering several bones. In the film, the character of Buffalo just gets up and starts running, but the reality was much more frightening than that. In further action sequences, the filmmakers demonstrate much more risk. Even Ellen Chan gets involved, being brutally dragged down a stair case while doing a split, and also taking part in a stunt that has her being hung from a metal pole on the side of a very high building. The violence seems very real in Tiger on the Beat 2, and although the action is far from plentiful, it is still something to behold. Unfortunately, this film lacks the chainsaw fight or shotgun-on-a-yoyo scene from the original, but it makes up for it in the death defying insanity that is regularly put on display.

As all great action movies are prone to do, everything within Tiger on Beat 2 is building to a climax that can only be described as a spectacle. The first three quarters of the movie are spent developing our characters, showcasing several comedic happenings, and letting the cast goof around with only a few pieces of action spread throughout. Don’t get me wrong, this section of the movie has its own merit. There is a rather brilliant comedic sequence involving Conan Lee, Ellen Chan, Ellen Chan’s horny roommate, and a stealthy killer who continually evades Conan Lee’s eyesight, that will have audiences ROLLING with laughter. However, where the movie starts to really stand out is in the last twenty minutes or so. Moving from one elongated action sequence to the next, the movie begins to develop into an extravaganza unlike even the first movie. With stunts that should not be legal, and incredibly tight fight choreography, the crescendo that Tiger on the Beat 2 has been building to over its first two thirds proves to be WELL worth it. Comedic devices introduced during the first half come back, characters remain uniformly entertaining throughout, and the action keeps us glued to our seats. Either through fear for the lives of the performers or simply the tension built by Lau Kar Leung, no matter what, Tiger on the Beat 2 proves to be a fair successor to the crown.

The Conclusion