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Nick Chen is one of New York City's most martial police officers and the first Chinese-born immigrant on the force. Chen's job is to keep the peace in Chinatown from a turf war that has broken out between the Triads and the ruthless, and dangerous Fukienese Dragons. Chen teams up with Danny Wallace, who is terribly unaware of this situation. When the Tongs boldly attempt to bribe Wallace, Chen is forced to keep his faithfulness. Written by
This is a Hong Kong action flick with a distinct taste of the west. The movie starts off with a bombing and small store shoot-out that is right out of John Woo's stylebook but then it under goes a change. The story starts taking over and it is one of intrigue within intrigue. There are great moments of action with two guns blazing and an unbelievable amount of bullets but the story becomes the main thing. This works as glue that a lot of Hong Kong movies don't have. There are long pauses of plot developments between double crossing bad guys that are a real change to what is a typical Hong Kong action flick.
The director John Foley likes to place people in positions where they have to make critical decisions under pressure (At Close Range and Fear) and this is no exception. A caring cop caught up in a situation of corruption is under constant pressure to decide what is right. You are kept guessing as to his ultimate decision but the pressure is there under a dozen different situations. The sub-plots add to the texture of this movie and add to its richness. These side stories of the bad cop father in trouble, the interaction of rival Chinese gangs and his love of Asian culture are all parts of the puzzle that is Danny Wallace played by Mark Wahlberg. Foley knows Wahlberg from the direction of his acting breakthrough in Fear and uses him at what he does best, the confused tough guy with the sensitive agenda. (His latest movie `The Yards' is an example of what I mean). Nick Chen the experienced street cop played by Chow Yun-Fat is the perfect slightly crazy hard-hitting loner, who has embedded himself in the struggle of rival gangs in New York's Chinatown. There is no black and white here, only shades of gray, in a world of who is doing what to whom but like the cultural differences between East and West the relationships between individuals overcomes the hard facts of doing business on the street.
A very good blend of the Hong Kong actions movie that was brought in by Chow Yun-Fat (if you hear the commentary that Foley never saw a Woo movie) and what Foley's image is for street life in New York. Coming from New York and living and working in Asia gives me insight into the homework that went into the making of this movie and I will say they did a very good job.
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