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"The Lion Men" sequel inherits its predecessor's flaws and strengths

"The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" isn't much of an improvement over "The Lion Men", but is still a passable film.

SINGAPORE: "The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown", the second part of "The Lion Men" is basically more of the same, and picks up where “The Lion Men” left off.

Mikey (Chen Weiliang) and his teammates from the Tiger Crane lion dance Troupe, face off against their senior Shi Shen’s (Tosh Zhang) Storm Rider lion dance troupe at the big lion dance competition.

Shi Shen's relationship with his girlfriend Xiao Yu (Eva Cheng) becomes strained when she and Mikey start getting close to one another.

Consumed by his desire to win, Shi Shen focuses on training and neglects Xiao Yu, who tries her best to persuade him to withdraw from the tournament, after masked assailants attacked them on their way home from training.

Things come to a head when Xiao Yu gets kidnapped just before the finals of the competition begins. Shi Shen and Mikey must decide which matters more to them - Xiao Yu or the lion dance competition.

"The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" inherits the weaknesses of "The Lion Men".

The product placements in the film are jarring and break the flow of the narrative.

The computer-generated (CG) special effects also lack polish and some of the CG sequences, like the one involving a love story between a Hokkien-speaking mechanical lion and the Merlion, seem shoehorned into the film.

In addition, the storyline is contrived and lacks credibility.

Fortunately, "The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" also inherits some of the first film's strengths.

Wang's performance as the conflicted Mikey who struggles to overcome his insecurities, continues to be a highlight of the show. He emotes well and doesn't overact.

Zhang also did a reasonable job playing Shi Shen, but was completely relegated to supporting cast status in "The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown".

His character simply had no depth and didn't give Zhang many chances to shine.

While the plot is paper thin, "The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" does have some funny moments, much like "The Lion Men".

The hilarious kidnapping sequence, which featured veteran comedian and getai host Wang Lei, as well as veteran singer Roy Li, for example, was thoroughly funny and filled with witty lines.

It is a pity there aren't more of these funny bits in the film, which concluded with a melodramatic scene that appeared to have been copied straight from a sappy Korean drama.

All things considered, "The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" is far from perfect, but is still a passable film.

2.5/5 stars.

"The Lion Men: Ultimate Showdown" is now showing.

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