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 ...
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!