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City on Fire (1987)
"Lung fu fong wan" (original title)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  13 February 1987 (Hong Kong)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,257 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 29 critic

An undercover cop infiltrates a gang of thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store.

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(story), (english adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ko Chow (as Chow Yun Fat)
Danny Lee ...
Fu (as Danny Lee Sau-Yin)
Yueh Sun ...
Inspector Lau / Uncle Kung (as Sun Yueh)
Carrie Ng ...
Hung
Roy Cheung ...
Kong Lau ...
Inspector Chow
Elvis Tsui ...
Chan Kam-Wah
Yeh Fang ...
Chow Nam
Chi Fai Chan ...
Chen Ching / Tai Song
Mang-Ha Cheng ...
Chow's Grandmother (as Mang-ha Cheung)
Parkman Wong ...
Ah Man
Bo-San Chow ...
Lily
Victor Hon ...
Bill
Kwong Leung Wong ...
Kwong
Maria Cordero ...
Lounge Singer
Edit

Storyline

An undercover cop infiltrates a gang of thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

13 February 1987 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

City on Fire  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Karl Mak, the producer, gave four million HK dollars to Lam towards the film's budget, giving Lam absolute freedom to make any genre of film he wanted. See more »

Goofs

During the police shootout at the bad guys' hideout, the cameraman's silhouette can be seen. See more »

Quotes

Ko Chow: [after Wah is killed, Inspector Lau asks Ko Chow to go undercover again, but Chow wants out] I sent in my resignation.
Inspector Lau: I never got it.
Ko Chow: Look for it.
Inspector Lau: Chow, only you know the people that Wah did. You asked for this, remember? You can resign... once we've captured the killers.
Ko Chow: Last time with Shing, it went bad.
Inspector Lau: What went bad? We got him.
Ko Chow: I betrayed a friend.
Inspector Lau: You helped capture scum, all right? This friend ordered the deaths of hundreds. He had to die. You're a cop. Who told you to make friends with ...
[...]
See more »

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User Reviews

Tarantino visits the City On Fire
3 January 2000 | by (St. Petersburg, Russia) – See all my reviews

With all the attention Hong Kong cinema is getting, it becomes almost necessary to describe just how much of an underlying influence it has had on the climate of American film production. John Woo's films, and his subsequent transplant to Hollywood is probably the most publicized outcome of the phenomenon, but there are other, more obscure directors and films that have guided some of today's action film success stories.

Ringo Lam is a contemporary of John Woo, and it seems that his 1987 film CITY ON FIRE was an inspiration, if not out-and-out rip-off source material for Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS. Tarantino certainly borrowed heavily from the film, lifting several key plot points and even action sequences. It seems that Tarantino's talent lies not in originality, but in his ability to tell a story in a non-linear fashion, as evidenced by his re-working of various elements into a tale told in flashback and implication. Chow Yun Fat, the ubiquitous star of the John Woo films A BETTER TOMORROW, THE KILLER, and HARD BOILED, plays Ko Chow, a layabout petty criminal railroaded into service as an undercover agent for the Hong Kong police by the aging, almost washed up Inspector Kwong (Sun Yueh). A ring of jewelry thieves had perpetrated a brutal, well-planned robbery of a prestigious store in a Kowloon high-rise. Under pressure from his superiors, and in the middle of a professional rivalry with a younger inspector, Kwong resorts to using Chow as a creative final option. Equipping him with all the trappings of an arms salesman, he lets Chow loose to find out the identity of the robbers through his underworld connections. After surviving a gangland initiation of sorts, Chow gains the trust of the robbers, and is even befriended by the most brutal of them, Brother Fu (Lee Sau Yin). The gang invites him on its next project, robbing a gold shop in the downtown jewelry district. Meanwhile, when he's on his own, he works out female trouble with his sometime girlfriend, and dodges teams of police sent by the younger inspector who is unaware of his undercover status and suspects him of arms trafficking.

The robbery goes down as planned, except the store alarm is pressed, and police who were already staking out the jewelry district rush to the scene. Fu slays police in their squad cars with far more brutal relish than Harvey Keitel. Temporarily eluding the police, the robbers and Chow rush to their hideout, an abandoned warehouse. There they argue about how to split the spoils, and who among them might be a police informant. All of this culminates in a hail of bullets as the location of the robbers' den is found out, and they are surrounded by a virtual army of police.

Lam has crafted a somber, realistic actioner which would be slightly above average by American standards. It has a little less style than a John Woo film, and is certainly less violent (almost anything is less violent!) but covers essentially the same territory. One can readily pick out what Tarantino culled from this film, and it has a way of clarifying his creative process in that it is possible to see how he molded it into RESERVOIR DOGS using his own sensibilities.


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