Details: 101 mins, In Cinemas 8 November 2012, Hong Kong,
Synopsis: Police headquarters in Hong Kong receives an anonymous call: a fully-loaded police van carrying the force’s most advanced equipment and five highly-trained officers has disappeared off the grid. The hijackers possess direct knowledge of police procedures. The police must meet a list of demands to ensure the hostages’ release, including the delivery of a large ransom. Rival Deputy Commissioners Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) and Waise Lee (Tony Leung Ka-fai) fight to take charge of the rescue operation, code named Cold War.
Identity issues hinder Hong Kong cop drama.
the film ultimately panders to the idea that China is responsible for all of Hong Kong problems
BUSAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A few hours before Cold War was due to open the Busan International Film Festival, an announcement was made that the film's Hong Kong theatrical opening was to be delayed until mid-November. The announcement caused wide-ranging speculation about interference from China, though before seeing the film no one could say why.
Written and directed by relative newcomers Leung Lok Man (better known as an art director) and Sunny Luk (better known as a second unit director), this thriller begins when Hong Kong's Police Commissioner is attending a European conference and an explosion – believed to be a terrorist attack – occurs. Simultaneously, a security van full of police officers mysteriously disappears, quickly followed by an offer of their return if a ransom is paid.
In the absence of the Commissioner, the police force is under the control of hard-headed, military-minded former police officer, M.B. Lee (Tony Leung... no.. not that one, the other one from The Lover and more recently Tai Chi 0, Tony Leung Ka Fai) With his driven, militaristic approach, other members of the government department are concerned that Lee is exceeding his authority. Head of this worried pack is stickler for details, priggish bureaucrat Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok), who is concerned that there may be a mole in the police department who has set up a potential coup d'etat.
This problem of who should be head of Hong Kong's security forces in the Commissioner's absence is – temporarily – resolved early on, but it’s the set up for the audience to contemplate which is the most effective method of policing. So after a somewhat talky start, Cold War settles in as a genre film with an issue on its mind along with an exciting car chase and hypnotic stunt work.
As the action gathers momentum, the climactic emergence of a significant detail, brings the political energy behind Cold War into focus and reveals the reasoning for the script's frequent mentions of the territory's 1997 handover back to China. (Most contemporary Hong Kong films act as if the British were never there.) But with this newfound political pointedness that distantly recalls Johnnie To's Election 2, the script's plot become increasingly muddy. In addition to some head scratching points ("Who is this guy?" "Who does he represent?"), the film ultimately panders to the idea that China is responsible for all of Hong Kong problems and a fear in some quarters of Hong Kong society that the territory is becoming a more brutal, ruthless, selfish place due to the influx of Mainland values. The problem with this premise is that it implies that Hong Kongers were all squeaky clean before the handover. There were enough films pre-handover about gangsters and police corruption (some based on true incidents) to indicate that that's not true.
Ultimately, the film is trying to sell Hong Kongers a falsehood about themselves and that level of phoniness isn't good for movies. A little less black and white thinking and this action thriller could have been a tad richer... and the film's sequel teaser signoff just cheapens the whole affair.
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