Drug War Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Louis Koo, Honglei Sun, Michelle Ye, Crystal Huang
  • Director: Johnnie To
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: October 15, 2013
  • Run Time: 107 minutes


            Drug War blew me away. There has been an influx in action films in Hollywood these past years, with a return to the brawn of the 1980s and many of its stars. Mass and size has taken over, with veteran and new stars of unnatural proportions and large caliber weaponry to accessorize with. These spectacle-inducing films of indulgence have their place in the world of entertainment, but occasionally I enjoy using my brain while watching action and Drug War had me captivated the entire run time. Not knowing what is going to happen next in a film is a rare experience, but I was sincerely surprised by each direction this film took. The balance of intelligent filmmaking and indulgent action makes for a brilliant crime film unlike anything I have seen in quite some time.


            Crime and underworld films are familiar territory for director Johnnie To (Election, Exiled), but it is the simplicity of the narrative which sets Drug War apart from some of his other great films. The film begins with two opposing characters who will spend a majority of the film with each other, after the initial tragic events take place. Timmy Choi (Louis Koo) is a high-level producer of methamphetamine, which is an automatic death sentence in China. In order to find a way to survive after being arrested, Choi quickly turns on his criminal cohorts and becomes an asset to Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei). In the 72 hours following his capture, Choi does anything he can to ensure self preservation.


            There is some police procedural in Drug War, especially as the police attempt to tail the low-level mules without detection, but this inevitably results in some action as well. The balance between effective pulse-pounding action and an intelligent plot with believable characters is pulled off with ease. Choi is somewhat of an enigma for much of the film, as a clear villain in the production of drugs but also clever enough that it becomes difficult not to root for him. Without saying anything for the first fifteen-minutes of the film, Choi’s motivation is a mystery which is not fully revealed until the end of the film.


            The Blu-ray release includes no real special features worth boasting about, but the high definition presentation of this polished film is worthwhile. Even the menu seems underwhelming for such a solid film, but even with the extras or the perks this manages to be a release worth seeking out.



    Entertainment Value: 9/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10

    Historical Significance: 7.5/10

    Disc Features: 1/10




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