2013 LAFF: Drug War (***)


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Drug War‘ is proof that Asians simply have an unspoken and inexplicable appreciation for the art of violence (and pacing) that very few others have the capability of replicating. From the first arrest to the last shoot out, director Johnnie To and his team have found a way for this film to be action packed while fusing older ideas into new stories. Where most Hollywood films would use sex appeal and the raunchiness, To filled the film with well-edited fake-outs, trial handling, and decoding of the underground world of drug trafficking while offering a new perspective to those who are in charge and their motivation.

Drug War (chn)When a drug boss (Louis Koo) is caught by the police, he offers information to trade for his life. From that point on, his life spirals and bounces, back and forth, his loyalty questionable until the end, causing death and destruction for both sides. The end is probably the most satisfying as well as the most unfair of all scenes. I found myself asking whether or not the drug boss would have ended up responsible for so many deaths had the police not used and abused him so much. But each shot was well composed, every character’s performance were precise, and the arcs went wild in every scene.

Consistent color grading, using silhouettes and sound carefully, this story is filled with mysteries and secrets that thrill the audience to no end. Carefully placed scenes for comedic relief keep the audience enticed, and each revelation and twist brings about new characters that add to the thickness of the plot. Each person with their own greed and desires, I enjoyed each individual character and their dynamic with the rest of the cast. Through the ups and downs, trials and errors, until the end, I was fully invested in the story and captivated from beginning until the end. A great guy’s night movie, high recommended if you enjoy action and thrillers!