Hong Kong Action Theatre! 2nd Edition touts itself as a cinematic action RPG that is compatible with the free TRI-STAT download. This hefty book has you creating Chinese actor player characters that has been popularized by recent kung-fu films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rumble in the Bronx. If you are looking to portray Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun Fatt, Jet Li, or maybe Michelle Yeoh, then this book shows you the way...
The interesting twist in HKAT!2 is that your movie becomes reality for the duration of your game session - this allow the players to act out their own script for the make-believe movie. Character creation sees you either creating an actor character (the movie star) or a role character (the part played by the actor in the movie itself). Actor stats, attributes, defects, skills, and background are determined during this creation process. The gamesmaster gives his actor characters a star billing (1 - 4) for every successful movie wrap-up which can then be used by the player to further spend on stats, attributes, and skills. Defects may even be bought off.
There are two large chapter dedicated to describing Hong Kong and the Chinese movie industry (including the prestigious Golden Horse Awards - akin to the Oscars). If you fancy touring Hong Kong, this chapter will definitely satisfy. It even brought back memories of my own visit to Stanley Village and Ocean Park when I visited Hong Kong many years ago. The chapter on the Hong Kong film industry even highlights the main movies that have been made since its inception in 1898. It makes for fancy reading especially when you get to see the exploits of Bruce Lee and even to learn of Cheng Pei pei - Hong Kong's original fighting diva. An admirable list of movie reviews is also provided at the end and you get to read about movies directed by John Woo, Ringo Lam, Sammo Hung, and Tsui Hark.The final chapter completes the book with 3 adventures - "To Kill with a Glance", "Shaolin", and "Die, Zombie, Die!"
Tables used by HKAT!2 are placed at the end of the book including a character sheet and a side-bar describing how to convert between HKAT!2 and BESM. A useful index is also available.
To end up the review, HKAT!2 has an exciting premise that allows you to run your very own kung-fu movies. It is well-illustrated with pictures showing kung-fu characters and also contains clear and crisp pages with a compact type - squeezing a lot of material in just 192 pages. This has been a very good buy for me - and is highly recommended!
[5 of 5 Stars!]