Drug War (2012)

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Drug War: Directed by Johnnie To. With Honglei Sun, Louis Koo, Yi Huang, Yunxiang Gao. A drug cartel boss who is arrested in a raid is coerced into betraying his former accomplices as part of an undercover operation.

“After his meth lab explodes, leaving him scarred and his wife dead, Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) is apprehended by the Chinese police for a crime that warrants the death penalty. In the custody of Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei), Choi sees only one option to avoid execution; turn traitor and help Zhangu0026#39;s undercover unit bring down the powerful cartel that he has been cooking for. As the stakes get higher, it becomes increasing unclear as to who has the upper hand, and who will dictate the endgame. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDirector Johnny To is a master of the crime film, and with u0026quot;Drug War,u0026quot; heu0026#39;s created a near masterpiece of the genre. He never convinces us of being in anything but complete control of his multifaceted thriller, and exudes an unparallelled confidence in every scene and phenomenal set piece.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eTou0026#39;s electrifying picture recalls some of the best work of his great contemporaries. u0026quot;Drug Waru0026quot; possesses the technical brilliance of Scorseseu0026#39;s u0026quot;The Departed,u0026quot; the ground-level knowledge and surveillance of David Simonu0026#39;s u0026quot;The Wire,u0026quot; the gritty realism of Michael Mannu0026#39;s best work, and by the end the blistering, double-fisted action of John Woou0026#39;s prime. These elements donu0026#39;t come together as a derivative; To is a filmmaker at the top of his game, and makes the most of his cast, his influences, the Mainland setting, and a little of the grotesquerie that often has Hollywood shuddering; in a singular whole. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDisparate from most Hong Kong action films, u0026quot;Drug Waru0026quot; is a methodical, meticulous procedural first, exploiting a street-smart screenplay that knows the Chinese crime scene; and if that statement is indeed false, it never feels less than authentic. Much of the intensity derives from dialogue exchanges, and how rigorous both the cops and criminals try to not get made. Because of this well paced, equally well played dynamic, we never know who we should root for, and thatu0026#39;s exactly the point. Mr. Tou0026#39;s drama is incredibly intense… but then he pulls out all the stops. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe last 20 minutes of u0026quot;Drug Waru0026quot; is the show-stopping action set piece of the year. An extended shootout thatu0026#39;s brutal, ambitious, and a masterpiece of itu0026#39;s kind. Itu0026#39;s a marvel of physical filmmaking that also works as an unexpected plot device, violently flipping our conceived notions of these characters on their ear; clearing the way for a fittingly ironic, ice-cold conclusion.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eu0026quot;Drug Waru0026quot; might just be the best pure crime film of 2013. Technically and narratively stellar, it already seems like a minor classic of the genre.”


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