‘Drug War’ Is a Violent Trip Into the Chinese Underworld

When an explosion in his meth lab kills his wife and exposes his operation to the police, drug boss Timmy Choi (Hong Kong pop star Louis Koo) flees the violent accident, but is too disoriented to cinch the getaway. His sedan blasts through the glass entryway of a restaurant, sending debris and customers scattering.

In similar fashion Hong Kong director Johnnie To, filming in mainland China for the first time, makes “Drug War” leap from crisis to crisis. Choi, facing a certain death sentence, offers to rat out top members of his cartel to vice squad commander Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei) for a reduced sentence. With every reason to mistrust each other, cop and snitch cat-and-mouse their way through suspenseful meetings with crime bosses to engineer a massive sting.

Shot in the drab port city of Jinhai and industrial, grimy Erzhou, “Drug War” only turns glitzy when the focus shifts to high-living criminals. The film deglamorizes the meth trade, showing the agonies of mules who have filled their intestines with plastic packs of dope, the epileptic effects of drug shock and the utter lack of honor in the underworld.

– Read the entire article at Star Tribune.