Drug War

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drug warThere’s nothing more enjoyable than sitting down for a foreign action film not expecting much, and in the middle of it feeling like you’re watching the Chinese version of The French Connection. It’s a taut thriller that thrilled without giving us an overload of car chases and gun fights. They do eventually get there, though. Just be patient.

Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To gives us interesting characters, and he shoots the film brilliantly. There are shots that linger on people just long enough before cutting away.

It’s interesting how he shows us the police procedure and breaking down of information during a drug bust.

Captain Zhang Lei (Honglei Sun) and his partner Yang Xiaobei (Crystal Huang) catch some crooks that are lower on the totem pole. The mules aren’t treated as nice as they would be in our jails, and after some humiliation (pants are down and evidence is being forced out via enema), it’s off to arrest Timmy Choi. He’s farther up the chain. After he’s questioned, he’s given this ultimatum – work with them to nail the drug suppliers or get the death penalty.

Uh…can I see my lawyer first?

Oh yeah, I keep forgetting. This isn’t America. The guy doesn’t talk to council, and takes the deal.

I enjoyed many of the decisions the cops make at the spur of the moment, but I’ve grown tired of that scene that’s been in so many movies – the one where the cop has to try the drugs to show he’s a legitimate bad guy. In this, it didn’t even seem necessary. One character, the bizarre and hysterical HaHa (he laughs constantly), tells everyone he doesn’t do coke because it’ll ruin your brain. The cop trying the drugs does end up with a scene in a bathtub that’s chilling.

There is a shoot-out that would make Sam Peckinpah and Quentin Tarantino proud.

It’s was enjoyable to watch a movie that didn’t really on non-stop action and car chases, and had gallows humor that worked.

Read some subtitles, and go see it. I’m giving it 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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