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In the safest city in Asia, the Hong Kong police department has been untouchable for years. Until one night the police headquarters receives an anonymous call after a fully loaded police van, carrying five highly trained officers and equipment, disappears off the gird. After receiving several cryptic phone calls from the hijackers one officer starts realizing they're aware of every crucial decision they make. But as they execute a carefully planned attack, little do they know they've become unwitting pawns in a bigger, more dangerous game. Written by
Very Intelligent, Well Acted and Visually Stunning, but by the end, Your Hunger for a Decent Police Drama will not be Satisfied
Honor is a major aspect focused upon during this Chinese action drama, which visually conveys the integrity and competent nature of the Hong Kong police department's ability to wage war on crime, and efficaciously ensure the safety of the city's public.
Out on the streets of Hong Kong one night, a van carrying five members of the police force, not to mention a wealth of tactical equipment, unexpectedly vanishes off the grid. The hijackers behind this daring plot immediately demand a ransom, and though the attackers are starting a war with the police, an equally hard battle is taking place between the investigating officers. Lau (Aaron Kwok) is Management's youngest Deputy Commissioner, while Lee (Tony Leung Ka-fai), an older gentleman, is the Deputy Commissioner of Operations, both with widely differing points of view.
While Lau wishes to negotiate, Lee, whose son Joe (Eddie Peng) is one of the five officers held for ransom, is ready to bring the entire force of the Hong Kong police department down upon those who would dare assault them. The reputation of these high ranking personnel is on the line, and with the Commissioner soon to retire, one of these two men will be crowned the next leader of the Hong Kong police - and what happens over the course of this investigation will shape their history.
The two aforementioned leads, alongside Gordon Lam as Albert and Chin Kar-lok as Vincent are strongly portrayed as dutiful officers. Moreover, Aarif Rahman as Cheung, the lead ICAC officer assigned to investigate the procedures taken to thwart the hijackers is deserving of being mentioned for his equally adept performance. At the same time though, I found his character to be rather unlikable due to his attitude, which seems awfully confident, to the point of being egotistically pretentious.
The focus on these characters leaves little room for Charlie Young, who portrays Phoenix, the head of the public relation branch of the police, or Grace Huang, who plays probationary inspector May, despite their loyalty's been clearly outlined. Moreover, the inclusion of Ma Yili and J. J Jia as the wives of Lau and Vincent, both of whom had barely a minute's screen time, was unnecessary, although were clearly included to show an alternate familial side to these hardworking characters. If the developers adamantly wanted the wives to be included in the plot, I believe additional screen time and emotional dialogue would have beneficially increased the impact.
Visually, Cold War is quite sublime, the film taking advantage of its setting, Hong Kong been visualized as the technologically powerful, secure environment the police claim it to be, with a number of great aerial shots revealing the grandness of the metropolis. Not only this, those portraying the officers in the film are accompanied by the luxurious attires they continuously wear, making them appear as competent and dedicated as they continuously seem.
Despite the front cover's insinuation that Cold War is an action film, it is in fact a dramatic thriller. Despite the movie beginning with an explosive start that immediately catches your eye, the action scenes are incredibly infrequent, the most captivating aspects of the movie been its intelligent and thought provoking script, that is continuously twisting like a snake, as the characters attempt to unravel the conspiracy they have unwittingly fallen into. However, Peter Kam's score, much like the cover, offers a similar assumption regarding the film's genre, and despite its entertaining properties, the over the top orchestral soundtrack, when used in conjunction with events that are neither eventful or action oriented, seems unnecessary.
As the film progresses and the antagonists behind the plot are slowly revealed, the lacking background behind what caused them to orchestrate the attacks is rather unsatisfactory in a film which contained such an effective build up. With the exception of the lead instigator, whose motivations we are able to comprehend, the film's finale is less wowing than I would have imagined from a film that really keeps you pinned to the screen, and rather, my attitude towards the end was more like 'uh, so that's how it is, eh?' Furthermore, at the film's conclusion, text appears on screen notifying the viewership that this is definitively 'the end', which contradicts not only the visuals, but the dialogue which suggests there could be more to come. This anti-climatic conclusion inevitably falls short of whatever expectations audiences would have acquired over the course of the film.
Despite being entertaining and intelligent, with great acting all around, superb visuals, and the rare, but still well executed fight scene, Cold War is a movie that keeps you attentive, yet will leave you wanting a finale better fitting a feature of its caliber.
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