When you know a bit about Hon Jin, internationally known as Cold War, before watching it, you can’t help but expect quite a lot of this film. First of all, it features superstars Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Ka-fai. Next to this, the film won 9 Hong Kong Film Awards in April 2013, including best film, best director, best actor (Tony Leung Ka-fai) and best screenplay. This might result in setting one’s expectations quite high.
A van with 5 top police officers and the most advanced equipment vanishes without a trace. It doesn’t take long before the hijackers contact the police and demand a large sum of money. Rival deputy commissioners Lau (Aaron Kwok) and Lee (Tony Leung Ka-fai) want to lead the case, which is codenamed Cold War. The problem is that both have different strategies they wish to pursue, as Lau prefers negotiating while Lee craves direct action. It also doesn’t help that it turns out to be the case that will decide which of the two commissioners will end up on top.
With its vast reputation and award-winning history, one can’t help but be a little excited when pressing play to view this film, especially fans of Asian cinema. So a natural question that immediately follows is: does it deliver? Well, it depends on what you are expecting.
For starters, the story is one that requires keeping your full attention. There is a lot going on so if you lose it you might end up wondering what’s happening. There are also quite a few side characters that get introduced next to the main characters of which some disappear, but some reappear later on again. The plot wants to surprise at some points, but the avid movie viewer might see some things coming.
Since there is not that much considering action, as in gunfights or martial arts, the film relies on the acting of its performers. The action is in the dialogue and performances. For having just a few limited action scenes it does raise the question why the film was also nominated for Best Action Choreography. But even if a movie lacks in amount of action, it is not immediately a bad thing. But if you are expecting a lot of action spectacle, which some trailers of the film make believe, you will be disappointed. But when it comes to acting, the movie fortunately does deliver.
As mentioned earlier, Tony Leung Ka-fai won the award for Best Actor and indeed delivers a good performance. Still, it has to be mentioned that Aaron Kwok, who is almost 50 years old but definitely doesn’t look like it, gives a solid performance as well. Both actors get the chance to shine and they share some nice scenes together from which one scene definitely stands out. The smaller roles are also well carried out by actors like Charlie Yeung, Gordon Lam and even Andy Lau shows his face.
So the end result feels a bit mediocre, even though it is an entertaining movie. The film could have used a bit more action, but that can of course be seen as a matter of taste. It manages to keep the tempo quite high and is well edited. So if you are expecting a film that centres more on some good acting performances it is bound to leave you more satisfied than when expecting an action flick.
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