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追龍 (2017)
Chasing the Dragon

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/25/2018
Summary: Good bad guys and bad bad guys fight it out

Andy Lau and Donnie Yen headline a choppy (in more ways than one) crime drama about the wild days of Hong Kong in the 1970s and the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. While they portray the top crooked cop and the biggest drug lord of the Crown Colony, their characters Lee Rock and Crippled Ho are played more as antiheroes than as total villains. The real bad guys are the British, exemplified by Scots police commander Hunter who has all the qualities we love to hate in a colonizer: racist, corrupt, stupid, thinks his people have civilized the Chinese. Constant refrain of “don’t kill a British policeman, if you do they will stop ignoring the corruption of the Hong Kong police and their Triad connections” is foregrounded too much, almost as an excuse for the Chinese gangsters to kill and maim each other and prey on the drug dependent population since they can’t move against the real oppressors.

As is often the case in Hong Kong action movies, virtue is signaled by great personal bravery and a character’s ability to overcome very long odds. In one scene Andy Lau knocks out about 20 axe wielding thugs with a shovel while Donnie Yen does the same against fighters armed with choppers by swinging his jacket.

Much of the action takes place in a fantastic recreation of the Kowloon Walled City where there is also a long tracking shot like the entry to the nightclub in “Goodfellas”. Set to the classic funk song “The Ghetto”, the camera follows every move of Lee Rock as he moves through the Walled City with his entourage, hugging the walls or suddenly coming to an unexpected open square. It is a highlight of the fim. Another is the dizzying shot from above as two gangs gather and then attack on the streets below. Both are in the the first half before the story gets a bit out of control, for example when the members of Ho’s original gang, his “brothers” are killed off with more melodrama and sentimentality in their death than has been used in developing them.

Another indication that a lot has been left on the cutting room floor is the speed at which things are wrapped up (with plenty of loose ends) after the creation of the ICAC. Some exposition provided by TV news footage about the new commission, a few cuts on interviews of villains and Lee Rock is off to Canada while Crippled Ho is on his way to prison. There are lots of good parts but “Chasing the Dragon” doesn’t really hold them all together.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 10/01/2017

Watched Sep 30, 2017 :

Caught a matinee today. Very entertaining film tells some history from the 70's and 80's. Humor and action from great HK characters from that era fill the screen.

Reviewer Score: 7