Like the first, the plot centers around the right and/or wrong of xenophobic foreign policy. (Wait - is this was a kung fu movie?) It's also better than the first, since its commentary on the rise of religious fundamentalism in troubled times is more poignant. The fight scenes are best here, thanks to a young Donnie Yen. A film surprise in sequel's clothing.
while the first film was mostly a celebration of hong kong cinema as it matured into a golden age (largely through hark's instigation), the second is a much more troubled portrait of a country tearing itself apart through fear, provincialism, and ignorance. both looking back to the cynicism of his first 3 features, and forward to the anger of 'the blade,' with one of hark's best fight scenes (the white lotus shrine).