Monday, September 30, 2013

Milwaukee Film Fest 2013: Drug War

My last movie of the first day of the festival was the Chinese action movie Drug War directed by famous Hong Kong director Johnnie To.  

The movie is about narcotics officer Captain Zhang (Honglei Sun) and his team as they try to bust a large crystal meth operation. After getting caught Timmy Choi (Louis Koo)  begins to turnover names and places of his accomplices to save himself from the death penalty.  This leads Zhang to have to pretend to be various criminals to work his way to the top of the chain. Also, as Zhang gets closer the motives of Choi and how much he can be trusted is questioned.

The movie starts off with action and some pretty weird scenes where a whole bus full of drug mules is captured and forced to poop out their drugs.  I am glad that scene didn't have smell-a-vision.  The back and forth between Zhang and Choi is what keeps the movie interesting at the beginning.  We never really know what Choi's motives are.  But I have to admit it started losing my interest part way through and I kept waiting for something to happen.  When it did happen it was explosive.  There are massive gun fights, high speed chases, and lots of death.  The cast of characters were interesting which included a drug dealer named ha-ha which had an annoying laugh and two deaf brothers who get a cool shoot out scene.

After seeing the movie I read a little more about it and this is Johnnie To's first Chinese movie and pushed the limits of what the Chinese censorship board would allow.  I found out that there are two endings and apparently we got to see the Chinese approved ending.  The politics behind it is fascinating but lost on me as I don't know that much about Chinese cinema.

Overall: 3 out of 5.  Some good action and interesting characters. But didn't hold my interest all the way through.   

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