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Drug War(毒戰)

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China, Hong Kong · 2012
Rated R · 1h 47m
Director Johnnie To
Starring Louis Koo, 孙红雷, Huang Yi, Michelle Ye
Genre Action, Crime, Drama

Zhang Lei is the captain of an undercover police anti-drug division, who has recently arrested Tian Ming, a drug dealer manufacturing methamphetamine and facing the death penalty. To avoid his sentence, Tian agrees to inform Zhang on the dealings of his partners, but as the investigation goes on, Zhang begins to think Tian has other motives.

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What are people saying?

Teddy Pierce Profile picture for Teddy Pierce

Incredible thriller that places the viewer in position to do a lot of observation and connection on their own. As a viewer you continually revise your understanding of everything, and so often off balance about what is happening. Everything is rapid fire. And, even when constrained to a simple cops are good, criminals are bad, message, the film is able to complicate this slightly in that the criminals are the only ones who actually mourn.

What are critics saying?


Variety by Boyd van Hoeij

A nail-biter that’s actually quite light on action but so well-scripted and shot, it’s nonetheless edge-of-your-seat material.


Slant Magazine by Chuck Bowen

The film is a singularly huge, relentless, all-encompassing set piece that mutates and spasms with terrifying lack of foresight. It's all business, business, business.


New York Magazine (Vulture) by David Edelstein

Hot-dog Hong Kong action stylist Johnnie To has never achieved the cult status of John Woo in this country, but his explosively entertaining — and startlingly splattery — Drug War should win him new fans.


The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young

In Drug War, Hong Kong genre master Johnnie To gives a superlative lesson on how to give an updated, thoroughly engrossing twist to the classic cops-and-robbers chase.


IndieWire by Eric Kohn

More traditional in terms of atmosphere and plot, Drug War nevertheless features a tense, unstoppable momentum, a morally ambiguous protagonist and hugely involving action scenes.


The A.V. Club by Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

Drug War brings to mind Soderbergh’s recent "Side Effects", a film defined by similar changes in perspective and genre. However, while "Side Effects" is best at its midpoint, before the viewer has really figured out what kind of movie it is, Drug War becomes both weightier and more playful with each transition, building to a harrowing finale.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

The low-key nature of what's come before simply serves to render all the more effective the final shootout, when the film careens completely, and bloodily, off the rails.

63 by Jordan Hoffman

Drug War is by no means a bad film, but it doesn’t do much to push the needle of originality, and doesn’t glide enough to represent perfection of the genre.


Time Out by Keith Uhlich

Not a bad setup for a cops-and-robbers thriller, and in the hands of action-movie maestro Johnnie To, the result comes very close to greatness.


Village Voice by Michael Atkinson

Drug War might arguably be [To's] best film for this reason—it doesn't attempt to raise the stakes on its genre, but instead fully exploits what's there, piecing together an elaborate narc campaign tale out of classic clichés and tight-knot plotting, and letting the disaster of balls-out crime make its own statement.

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