Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 19 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 19
  2. Negative: 0 out of 19
  1. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Jul 23, 2013
    91
    More traditional in terms of atmosphere and plot, Drug War nevertheless features a tense, unstoppable momentum, a morally ambiguous protagonist and hugely involving action scenes.
  2. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Aug 1, 2013
    90
    To has a great mastery of timing; he knows just how long to let a look linger before cutting away, how little he can reveal without losing us. The director keeps you guessing until the very end whether Choi or Zhang, or someone else entirely, will be the last man standing.
  3. 90
    Hot-dog Hong Kong action stylist Johnnie To has never achieved the cult status of John Woo in this country, but his explosively entertaining — and startlingly splattery — Drug War should win him new fans.
  4. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jul 26, 2013
    100
    The climactic shootout, which goes on for 15 minutes and has an astronomical body count, is a masterpiece of its kind.
  5. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Jul 26, 2013
    90
    Evil cannot triumph in a movie made in China, but Drug War's ultimate scene nonetheless manages to astonish, revealing both Choi's character and the nature of mainland justice. Rather than dodging the harshness of Chinese authority, To depicts it implacably. He does exactly what the censors want, and yet subverts their worldview.
  6. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    Aug 15, 2013
    88
    Drug War is a deeply intelligent, exhilarating and eminently satisfying adult crime story, one of the best thrillers you're likely to see this year.
  7. Reviewed by: Simon Abrams
    Jul 26, 2013
    88
    The film's flintiness and initially subdued nastiness set it apart from most other action films about the thin line separating cops from crooks.
  8. Reviewed by: G. Allen Johnson
    Aug 15, 2013
    100
    I'll go ahead and call Drug War the best Hong Kong action movie since "Infernal Affairs" (the 2002 film that Martin Scorsese remade as "The Departed"), even though technically it's a Chinese film.
  9. Reviewed by: Chuck Bowen
    Jul 17, 2013
    100
    The film is a singularly huge, relentless, all-encompassing set piece that mutates and spasms with terrifying lack of foresight. It's all business, business, business.
  10. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Jul 24, 2013
    91
    Drug War brings to mind Soderbergh’s recent "Side Effects", a film defined by similar changes in perspective and genre. However, while "Side Effects" is best at its midpoint, before the viewer has really figured out what kind of movie it is, Drug War becomes both weightier and more playful with each transition, building to a harrowing finale.
  11. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Jul 17, 2013
    90
    In Drug War, Hong Kong genre master Johnnie To gives a superlative lesson on how to give an updated, thoroughly engrossing twist to the classic cops-and-robbers chase.
  12. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Jul 23, 2013
    90
    Drug War might arguably be [To's] best film for this reason—it doesn't attempt to raise the stakes on its genre, but instead fully exploits what's there, piecing together an elaborate narc campaign tale out of classic clichés and tight-knot plotting, and letting the disaster of balls-out crime make its own statement.
User Score
7.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 2 out of 8
  1. Jul 27, 2013
    2
    I really don't understand the wildly positive reviews this is getting. It's a basic police procedural. A drug dealer gets busted and agrees to cooperate with the police, but his allegiances remain unclear until the final third of the film. You can guess where this one's going. The last 15 minutes are full of over the top John Woo-style gun violence, but it's nothing worth sitting through the rest of the movie to see, especially since the film gives you absolutely no reason to care whether any of the characters live or die. Don't bother with this garbage. Full Review »
  2. Jul 19, 2014
    9
    Really big surprise, I expected a film full of actions (and with scenes of kung fu) but it have a really a good trama, good actors, and the end was really good and amazing. Full Review »
  3. Jun 15, 2014
    10
    Not only a surprise, this is a great score for that part of the world. It's not a forged atmosphere, a lot action movies try (unsuccessfully usually). It's a serious movie, showing to Hollywood what is forgotten when the plot mixes guns, undercover agents and ferocious quest to overcome crime. Full Review »