Chinese action god, Chow Yun Fat, and lunchbox turned respected star, Mark Wahlberg, are the reluctant partners out to not only scupper a bloody Triad turf war (which either one of them may have an underhand part in), but also come to terms with their fractious relationship and look damn cool with big guns.
If you're looking for the coolest and most significant contribution made by the Hong Kong film industry to world cinema, then way up the list has to be the diving hero, framed in slo-mo, a blazing Barretta clutched in each fist. Welcome to another round of action in an Oriental stylee.
And boy, does it start with a bang! Blasted to matchwood, the fiery demise of a corner shop heralds two ear-popping shoot-outs and a body count going through the roof, all inside the first 15 minutes. It's war in Chinatown. And as the Fukinese Dragons seek to usurp the resident Tong domination, the NYPD attempts to quell political and public clamour by assigning rookie Danny Wallace (Wahlberg) to their Asian Gang Unit, to the disgust of unit leader Nick Chen (Chow). By the second salvo, he has been fiercely blooded in the manner of Chinatown policing.
With a vivid visual style of kinetic camerawork and stark, colourful (almost hyper-real) lighting belying his more gentle history with Glengarry Glen Ross and After Dark My Sweet, director Foley would score highly in a Hong Kong masterclass, and captures the violent, striding potency of his leads well. His fascination with father-son dynamics (evident through Brian Cox as Wallace's fallen-from-grace policeman pop, and, of course, between Wallace and Chen) remains however, adding levels often ignored in this genre. The resulting relationship between apparently still-damp rookie and street-smart vet is less cliched than you'd expect - particularly as Wallace begins to discover the compromising ties binding Chen to Tong leaders Benny Wong (Kim Chan) and right-hand man Henry Lee (Young) - and capably handled by both actors.
Okay, it may not be Shakespeare, but it's a welcome bonus, for neither Chow or Wahlberg looks out of place in crossfire that would likely leave trained military personnel shell-shocked. With Foley allowing the odd flash of dark humour to creep in, this is superior to Chow's last outing in The Replacement Killers.
Okay, it may not be Shakespeare, but it's a welcome bonus, for neither Chow or Wahlberg looks out of place in crossfire that would likely leave trained military personnel shell-shocked.
Reviewed by Darren Bignell