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Drug War

Hong Kong 2012
produced by
Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai for Milkyway Image, Hairun Media
directed by Johnnie To
starring Louis Koo, Sun Honglei, Huang Yi, Michelle Ye, Wallace Chung, Cheung Siu-Fai, Guo Tao, Lam Ka Tung, Lam Suet, Li Guangjie, Lo Hoi-Pang
written by Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ryker Chan, Yu Si, music by Xavier Jamaux

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It all starts with a car crashing into a storefront, and the man (Louis Koo) behind the wheel quite obviously escaped an exploding druglab. Once he's identified as druglord Tian Ming though, he has already made a daring escape from the hospital he was under guard in, but is recaptured by Zhang Lei (Sun Honglei), captain of the anti-drug commission. When the captain questions him, Tian Ming is quick to realize he's left with but two options, either be executed for his crimes, or, should he manage to escape, be executed by his "partners" for a certain slip-up ... well, unless he helps the police. So with his help Zhang Lei and his team manage to infiltrate a big drug gang and understand their operations. Tian Ming proves to be a dependable ally too, up to the point when he saves the captain's life. And he's ruthless in his betrayal, not even his uncle and his brother are safe. However, eventually the drug cartel notices there might be a rotten apple in their basket, so a big handover takes place in front of a public school, when the kids are just arriving. And suddenly, a carefully laid out operation to round up all the baddies of the piece turns into a big chaotic shoot-out - especially when Tian Ming thinks he has found a way to make a clean getaway (in a school bus, with a few kids as human shields) after all. And even though suddenly both police and the drug cartel start shooting at him, he is ultimately left the last man standing ... but with his dying breath, the captain cuffs himself to Tian Ming's ankle, making it impossible to run - and the next police squad arrives in mere minutes.

Tian Ming is so desperate that he tries to give away more and more facts about the drug cartel to save his life, but having caused quite as many lives of police officers as he did, nobody shows him any mercy anymore and he's executed for good ...

 

Basically, Drug War is Johnnie To at his best: A typical genre story told in a multi-faceted, intelligent, ambiguous but also very entertaining way, enrichened with many quirks, twists and turns, comedy at the least expected places, and big yet carefully executed action setpieces with original solutions to old routines. All this is of course also helped by expert pacing, a great cast, and the usual technical finesse of the man. 

In a word, great!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
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starring
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out now on DVD