Review this movie
Oct 30, 2013Legendary director Jonnie To's "Drug War" generates a powerful suspense with extended action set-pieces that are truly exceptional, but it's the intense underplayed performances that ultimately leaves its lasting impression. To pulls out all the stops in this high-octane police procedural, shot predominantly in the Jinshan district on the Chinese mainland. This vast, operatic melodrama exhibits some extreme smarts in its bare bones approach to a drug unit's relentless pursuit of a drug cartel. The film proceeds with sequences that establish the war on drugs as neither a heroic crusade, or a hopelessly unwinnable war. They are no metaphors here it's a world where people make choices, and as a result, events unfold simply as a matter of process.
Manufacturing just fifty grams of meth in China will earn you a death sentence, and Timmy Choi (Louis Koo), manufactures on a massive scale. After a large meth lab explosion, Choi is under arrest and in the custody of Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei). Now he has only one chance to avoid execution: turn informant and help Zhang's undercover team take down the powerful cartel. As the uneasy allies must compress months of police work into just 72 sleepless hours, the increasingly desperate police are quickly stretched past their limits. As things spin wildly out of control, the line between duty and recklessness becomes vague, and it becomes unclear who truly has the upper hand.
The first act of "Drug War" is an epic manifestation of To's talents: The camera is never in the wrong place, and we're swept effortlessly into the mindsets of a dozen people in the first act with few words or wasted gestures. The film works thanks to the riveting performances of Sun Honglei and Louis Koo. In addition to his two strong leads, To creates a large gallery of dynamic supporting characters, most notably two mute brothers played by Guo Tao and Li Jing who at first appear as comic relief, but eventually play a larger role in the story.
The balancing act of the film relies on a long build-up for a large payoff. Director To incorporates just enough action and throughout to keep things interesting before the chaotic, bloody onslaught erupts in the third act. The visceral, brutal shoot-out between opposing sides takes place on a suburban street filled with pedestrians and children. It's intense and unflinching, with a fantastically dark resolution to the story. "Drug War" isn't particularly insightful or a profound viewing experience, but those looking for a top-notch thriller will be more than satisfied by this low-key masterpiece.… Expand
Jul 27, 2013The rules about on-screen violence are much tougher in China than in Hong Kong. How To got this past the censors is a mystery. Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To is a master of high-octane action movies like “Election” and “Sparrow,” but he’s yet to get a breakthrough hit in the US. If any of his flicks deserves to do so, it’s “Drug War,” a rare To co-production with China. The action is set on the mainland, mostly in the gritty industrial city of Jinhai. Drug-factory boss Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) faces the death penalty after being rounded up in an undercover operation, but makes a deal with a police captain Zhang (Sun Honglei) to rat out his pals in exchange for saving his life. (Manufacturing just 50 grams of meth in China will earn you a lethal injection.) Cars go crunch, bullets fly, blood spurts, bodies splatter and an unbelievable amount of cocaine is snorted. “Drug War” features a large cast of cops and gangsters, but the film’s center is the interaction between Timmy and Zhang. In one frantic scene, Zhang flips out after snorting coke, only to have his life saved by a fast-thinking Timmy.… Expand
Dec 7, 2013Its sad when people rate a movie or a game according to their expectations, quite egocentric, leading to misleading scores. Drug War is exactly what it claims to be, a crime thriller that mixes a good amount of drama and action, and does it very well, not without minor flaws.
The movie timeline is the summary of a couple of days, dialogue and character development is clearly not the goal of this movie. Therefore the 'Drama' isn't given by the usual standards since the viewer won't connect much with the characters, this choice works very well. No boring unessential nonsense dialogues to fill the movie.
Simple and very well done, presented in a linear timeline without any holes, held me to the screen until the very last scene, this is a thriller from the start to the end.
Good solid camera work, it has the right amount of movement and the shot montage in each scene is near perfect, the right pace for a thriller without at any time feeling like a drama or an action movie.
Considering that this movie takes a more 'realistic' approach there's some action sequences that don't look as good as they could/should. While it never feels completely far-fetched, the same can be said about never feeling 'realistic', but its all acceptable and enjoyable.
Its not an acting intensive movie, but when the actors have to perform they do it very well.
Special Effects 8
Most of them are gun wounds and they made a good job, not perfect however.
A good movie, enjoyed every minute of it, strongly recommend it for any thriller and/or crime fans. If you aren't into this kind of movie, if you want a movie with a highly developed story and characters, then this is not the movie for you, and if you choose to watch it, don't go later criticize it negatively just because you expect every movie to fulfill your egocentric needs.… Expand