Director: Mak Ho Pong
Cast: Patrick Tam, Louis Cheung, Adam Pak, Justin Cheung, Ron Ng, Kenny Wong
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 13 January 2022
Synopsis: Ho Chun (Ron Ng), a young entrepreneur, is sent to jail. By implementing his philosophy in the business world that money can solve any problems, Ho Chun offers Big Roller (Patrick Tam), Kin Tin (Adam Pak), Scar (Justin Cheung) and Ho Ching (Louis Cheung) a considerable amount of money for assisting him to breakout from jail. However, Big Roller and his gang reject the offer since they believe serving their sentences is the only right thing to do. It leaves Ho Chun with no choice but using other extreme methods to force Big Roller and his gang to commit.
Breakout Brothers wasn’t a breakout hit by any measure, but it was enough of a modest success for producer Raymond Wong to quickly seize the initiative to bankroll a sequel. Indeed, those who had seen the Mak Ho-pong directed, Edmond Wong-scripted prison break movie will probably remember that the only memorable thing about it was the chemistry between Patrick Tam, Louis Cheung and Adam Pak, who played three unlikely friends behind bars that teamed up to plan their escape.
Just because the first film was that mediocre, Breakout Brothers 2 turns out to be better than its predecessor. In addition to reuniting the original cast of Tam, Cheung and Pak, the sequel throws in erstwhile TVB star Ron Ng, who plays the young and ruthless entrepreneur Ho Chun that coerces the original gang of breakout brothers to break him out of jail. Oh yes, despite successfully escaping the last time round, Tam’s triad leader Big Roller, Cheung’s petty criminal Ho-ching and Pak’s wrongfully accused Kin-tin have all landed back in prison again, under yet again the watchful eye of Chief Superintendent Tang (Kenny Wong).
After the obligatory voiceover establishing them as inmates once again, a surprisingly strong first act sets up Ho Chun as the principal antagonist – not only does he refuse to acknowledge Big Roller as ‘big brother’, Ho Chun tells the latter outright that he wants Big Roller to play by his rules, and gives him 48 hours to make his choice. Ditto the impulsive gangster Scar (Justin Cheung), whom Ho Chun likewise refuses to bow down to and instead pays off his lackeys to turn them against him. Playing against type, Ng convincingly pulls off the role of a detestable villain whom you spend the rest of the movie waiting for his due comeuppance.
Given the strong start, it is somewhat disappointing that the next two acts are conspicuously middling. Without giving much away (because there really isn’t much to give away), Kin-tin devises a plan involving a medical emergency, a blackout and some outside help. It isn’t particularly clever in any regard; in fact, it is incredulous just how lax security is, especially considering that the prison had toughened its systems following the previous breakout. The same can be said of the execution itself in the third act, which is over all too quickly after Ho Chun’s breakout buddies decide to turn on him in order not to end up (again) on the wrong side of the law.
Like the first movie therefore, Breakout Brothers 2 ends up being carried on the shoulders of its cast, who to their credit, bring much more to their respective roles than their thinly written parts deserve. Tam is as suave and charismatic as ever, while (Louis) Cheung delivers the wise-cracks with perfect comic timing. Pak has much less to do this time round, but (Justin) Cheung makes a good foil for Ng, both of whom engage in a fierce rivalry to be the alpha male of the prison. Wong is also solid in a supporting part, though the filmmakers seem to be saving his Warden Tang character for the next sequel teased at the end of this one.
Oh yes, Breakout Brothers 2 makes it known that the story will continue in yet another instalment; and this, like the ‘Storm’ series, marks producer Raymond Wong’s attempt at turning modest successes into established franchises. There is potential here, in large part stemming from the chemistry of its lead cast, and as much as we respect the imperative for continuity, we think it would serve the Breakout Brothers better if both the scripting and directing were handed over to someone else. As it is, this sequel is only marginally better than its middling predecessor, so keep your expectations in check and you might just escape being disappointed.
(Erstwhile TVB star Ron Ng makes an exciting addition to the cast, and has good chemistry with the lead quartet of Patrick Tam, Louis Cheung, Adam Pak and Justin Cheung, but this flimsily plotted prison drama is only marginally better than its middling predecessor)
Review by Gabriel Chong