Johnnie To's

Johnnie To’s tense and gritty thriller “Drug War” made its debut at the International Rome Film Festival.

To’s movie about drug trafficking is shot entirely in Mainland, China but has faced minor censorship issues, leaving no chance for a domestic release. RIFF is one way of having it shown to an audience.

Johnnie To's "Drug War"

In a recent press conference, “Getting past the tough censorship was very difficult. We have to be aware of controversial subjects that may be deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government. But then, it’s a different society with a different background than what I am used to, so I respect their decision,” To explained (via JayneStars).

In reality, drug trafficking is punishable by death in China, something that To himself found “fascinating.”

The movie follows a police captain, in a desperate attempt to break out a major drug ring, seeking the help of a drug lord who is on the brink of his death penalty. This, and Feng Xiaogang’s “Back to 1942” are the two surprise films that artistic director Marco Mueller handpicked.

Johnnie To's "Drug War"

Critics who have have already since ‘Drug War’ are singing its praises

“keeping us engaged through long periods of talkiness and complex plotting” (FilmBizAsia) and is “impeccably choreographed” (IndieWire). The Hollywood Report sort of summarizes the critiques with this: “To gives a superlative lesson on how to give an updated, thoroughly engrossing twist to the classic cops-and-robbers chase.”

“Drug War” and all other entries to RIFF where available to the viewing public yesterday (November 17th).

As for the unlikely domestic release, things are under wraps and are probably staying that way. But if any development springs up, we’ll post it here.

Meanwhile, take peek on the trailer.