Judge David Johnson is ice cold.
Our review of Cold War (1998), published June 2nd, 2012, is also available.
Too hot to handle. Too cold to hold.
An all-star cast heads up this slick crime import about cops under siege. Worth your time?
Facts of the Case
The Hong Kong police force is eager to tell everyone that they are the authorities in charge of keeping their city the safest in Asia. They've even emblazoned "Safest city in Asia" on their precinct walls. That's just asking for it, right?
It is, and they get it. One night, a bomb goes off downtown and amidst the chaos a mysterious madman holds a van full of elite cops hostage. Suddenly the cops are under siege and the hostage-taker seemingly knows the ins and outs of how the police run their operations. Unraveling this mystery will fall to up-and-coming crime-solving wunderkind Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) and his fantastically parted hair.
A little part of me always perks up when a Hong Kong actioner makes it to my mailbox. Despite a fairly solid track record of exports being lukewarm at best, the releases that have been awesome have been so awesome, I'm forever optimistic that This Next One will again blow my socks off.
There was potential with Cold War—the production is high-end, the plot intriguing, the cast superb—but in the end the film just doesn't have the juice to compete. Not to say I wasn't on board from the get-go; like I said, I'm open to getting wowed by this stuff. But after a crackerjack opening, Cold War slowed down considerably, the focus shifting away from the omnipresent thought and more towards the inter-office squabbling and political machinations of the police bureaucracy.
Two big misfires ultimately hold back Cold War from being anything other than adequate: 1) sparse action and 2) the antagonist. As for the latter, I won't get into spoiler territory, but the ultimate reveal is hard-to-swallow, bordering on moronic. After all that, you would assuredly be saying to yourself, and this clown is behind it? And as far as the action goes, well, it doesn't go very far at all, cresting with a loud, visual-effects-heavy showdown in a skyscraper with a bunch of CGI fireworks popping all over the place.
Still, to give credit where it's due, the acting is legit. Aaron Kwok is apparently a converted actor-from-musician, but he's good here and definitely has weighty screen presence. The always dependable and omnipresent Andy Lau offers some supporting mojo, but his runtime is oddly muted.
Lionsgate's DVD is a sparse affair: 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital (Cantonese and English dubbed) and a making-of featurette.
Well-acted and well rendered, but the disposable story keeps Cold War in the fridge.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2013 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.