A druglord who is a part of a large network gets arrested by the police. He does everything to save his own skin, cooperating with the police and snitching on more powerful individuals in the network–but can he be trusted? Police captain Zhang (Sun Honglei) partners with Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) after the latter is arrested. To avoid the death penalty, Choi agrees to reveal information about his partners’ cocaine ring. Zhang grows suspicious of Choi’s candor as a drug raid goes in the planning phase.
Director Johnnie To (he also produced this new film) delivers an exciting action thriller in which his prowess at filming action scenes that ooze with style and control is on full display. No. Wait. Watching how To crafts action sequences is nothing short of miraculous (it’s no accident that he counts Tarantino as one of his greatest fans). The frequent dashes of wry humor help, too.
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“Drug War” is a dark film, sure, but it has a twinkle in its eye. Granted, none of the characters have much personality or depth, whether it’s the police or the villains. And that’s a fact. But To is such a hands-on, controlling freak that he’s managed to direct/produce an outstanding police procedural thriller.
The subject matter of druglording, in Hong Kong, a country with a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs, is rather risque. So it should be noted as remarkable that To has managed to make a politically correct film without ever resorting to preachiness, and even better, to mirror the authorities’ no-nonsense approach to drug interdiction while offering the kind of edge-of-your-seat mainstream entertainment. Wai Ka Fai, Johnny To’s long-time scriptwriter, has penned an effective script that paces low-key sequences with flashes of high-octane action scenes. “Drug War” is the archetypal action thriller, representing much of the best in action flicks that came out of Hong Kong in the eighties and nineties.
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