Reviewed by Glenn Satele
Starring: Chow Yun-fat, Ti Lung, Tien Niu,
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
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.
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
My grade for this film: 6.5
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
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Removable subtitles with 9 choices: Chinese
(Traditional), English, Chinese
(Simplified), Japanese, Bahasa (Indonesia),
Bahasa (Malaysia), Thai, Korean and Vietnamese.
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).