City War

Reviewed by Glenn Satele
 

Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Ti Lung, Tien Niu, Norman Tsui



This Chow Yun-fat/Ti Lung collaboration was made two years after the landmark John Woo film "A Better Tomorrow" and a year after the less impressive sequel.  Directed by Sun Chung, "City War" starts out (literally) with a bang: a room full of hired killers debate on who gets to kill a man.  A female ends up getting the task and shoots what appears to be a blown up black & white photograph of a cop's profile, but then blood pours out of the bullet hole left in the photo.
It turns out the man that was murdered was the former partner of Ken (Ti Lung).  Ken is a hotheaded cop near retirement who always clashes with his superiors in the force.  We witness Ken's brashness firsthand when he pursues a teenage shoplifter from a 7-11 to a mall eatery.  Here the young and scared would-be criminal grabs a hostage and holds a huge knife to her throat.  Ken, totally determined to capture the kid, curses and threatens to shoot the guy with no regards for the hostage's safety!  Smooth-talking police mediator Dick (Chow Yun-fat) is called in to settle matters and in a funny argument with Ken manages to frighten the teenager enough to surrender.
We then learn to find out that ten years prior, Ken and his recently deceased partner successfully nabbed a drub smuggler named Ted (Norman Tsui/Chu) during an alleyway confrontation.  Ted's girlfriend at the time (the lovely Tien Niu) is first seen in a karaoke bar singing a couple of tunes and conveniently Dick is there.  Dick (in a surreal Chow Yun-fat moment) decides to join Tien onstage and they perform a nice little song and dance number to thunderous applause!  Needless to say, from this point forward Tien and Dick develop a relationship.
Norman Tsui (Chu) and Tien Niu
Ted ends up getting released from jail and decides to get revenge on the solely surviving cop who busted him, Ken.  He also finds out about Dick and Tien's relationship, so naturally the two cops team up to thwart Ted's plans.
Overall "City War" is an average take on the "heroic bloodshed" genre.  It has some brutal violence and shocking scenes which are best left unspoiled until you see the film.  The Chow/Ti Lung team-up this time though doesn't have the same magic of the ABT films.  Norman Tsui steals the show here as Ted and he is so convincing in his part that you root for Ted to bite the big one.  The film is recommended only if you’re a fan of the actors and of these 80's HK Triad flicks (which I am).


My grade for this film: 6.5


DVD Information:

Distributed by Universe

The image quality is good with little artifacting, but too dark during the night scenes.  Also, the beginning is missing the production promos and starts right at the opening credits.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is good and not distracting or
out-of-sync.

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks

Removable subtitles with 9 choices:  Chinese (Traditional), English, Chinese
(Simplified), Japanese, Bahasa (Indonesia), Bahasa (Malaysia), Thai, Korean and Vietnamese.

8 Chapters

Includes it's own trailer and the trailer for "Postman Fights Back"

Star files on Chow Yun-fat and Ti Lung (I wish there was files on Tien Niu and Norman Tsui also).