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Drug War ("Du Zhan")

Quebec Premiere
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • 2012
  • 106 mins
  • DCP
  • Cantonese / Mandarin
  • English (subtitles)

“Edge-of-your-seat material... a refreshingly different good time for To’s genre fans” - Boyd van Hoeij, VARIETY

When Ming, the head of one of the biggest drug cartels, gets arrested during a raid, Captain Zhang convinces him to participate in a covert operation targeting his own organization. In exchange for a reduced sentence, he arranges several meetings with other cartel leaders and old associates. One by one, Ming slowly begins to betray all of his former colleagues.

After his brief stint in the romantic comedy department with DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART and ROMANCING IN THIN AIR, Johnnie To reunites with his long-time friend and screenwriter Wai Ka-Fai (FULLTIME KILLER, VENGEANCE) and returns to what he does best: strong action films. The pair proves once again that it is still possible to be innovative and provide interesting plot twists when it comes to the classic cop-and-cartel narrative. Usually making us sympathize with the gangster’s point of view, To here gives us a glimpse at other the side of the legal coin. In the vein of PTU and BREAKING NEWS, he plunges at the heart of the law enforcement world, the cops operating within it imbued with a credibility that is always careful not to glorify or deify them. To’s insistence on realism is also conveyed through his opting for more a traditional approach to special effects over CGI. The result is a striking, authentic experience that doesn’t resort to exaggerated visual spectacle in order to impress. The substance of his perfectly choreographed action sequences, most notably the final, tightly confined shootout filled with crashing cars and flying bullets, confirms To as a true master of his delectable art.

DRUG WAR is more than just an action film. Its vice-grip intrigue will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time through. To draws brilliant performances out of Sun Hong Lei and Louis Koo that go a long way in keeping the audience riveted, even during lengthy conversations between traffickers. You won’t be able to tell that DRUG WAR was produced following the much stricter violence-related restrictions of continental China. DRUG WAR’s potent blend of action and suspense is sure to quickly have you addicted.

— Éric S. Boisvert