Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar these days) is not the nicest place on God’s green Earth. In the second Largo Winch movie there seems to have been a nod to Avatar (!), as the basic plot point revolves around the massacre of a rural Burmese village by profit-mongers who were after the nickel deposits at the site. Of course, they hired a cruel local general to do the actual work, and the deal had connections to Largo’s father, Nerio Winch, whose secret Swiss bank account (password: Pandora) was allegedly used to fund the operation. This was three years earlier, while Nerio was still alive, and by an odd coincidence Largo himself was living with a local woman in another Burmese village about 30 miles away. When these matters come under public scrutiny, Largo is held responsible and accused of crimes against humanity. Now he has to clear himself and unravel what really went on; whether his father (who, by his own admission, was no saint) was actually responsible for the crime, or, if not, who among his corporate enemies (and friends) have made it seem that way.
This second movie gets more personal, ending up basing the conflict closer to Largo himself and his loved ones (yes, he turns out to have some. Spoilers prevent me from saying more) and that forces the movie to work on a more emotional level than the first movie did. It accomplishes this well enough, managing even so to pepper the movie with plenty of impressive action and fight sequences that seem taken straight out of a better-than-average James Bond movie. The dual dimension to the plot is that Largo wants to sell his W Group empire (which employs 392,000 people) and turn the 53 billion dollar net worth into a humanitarian fund. As he is warned about early on, this could garner him a lot of enemies among the world’s wealthy power elite, because, as a friend tells him, the rich always have humanitarian projects for show, but the real money they spend on it is a pittance.
Largo picks up new allies along the way, and the way in which we see how strong personal feelings outweigh monetary concerns is very believably pulled off. The directing is very good in most places, although there are a few scenes during the action where it is not entirely clear who does what. The acting is pretty flawless as well, although the way Largo’s valet servant, Gauthier, had to retrace the steps of another character almost became too comical and Marcus Brody-like.
Sharon Stone plays a UN official who investigates crimes against humanity, in cooperation with the likes of CIA. Her part, while integral to the plot, is not that large.
Overall, I found the first Largo Winch movie a bit better and more original (and comic book-like) than the second one, but both are beautifully produced exotic action movies.
The DVD screener has no extras beyond a trailer and scene selections (and stereo or surround sound options). The title of this release is only The Burma Conspiracy; apparently the distributor is trying to sell the movie as a stand-alone action movie to audiences unfamilar with the comic book. Seeing as this is in fact a sequel, I can only say I think it’s a bad (bordering on dishonest) idea to market the disc as a stand-alone movie. Apparently, somebody somewhere is ashamed that it is based on a comic book. They really shouldn’t be; don’t they know it’s the height of current fashion?
Largo Winch II: The Burma Conspiracy is out on DVD & blu-ray 23rd January 2012.
Director: Jerome Salle
Cast: Tomer Sisley, Sharon Stone, Napakpapha Nakprasitte, Nicolas Vaude, Laurent Terzieff and others
Runtime: 119 min.
Country: France, Belgium, Germany