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Drug War (Blu-ray Review)

Drug-WarHong Kong cinema is the master at the crime thriller.  You can almost pick out a random one and find success.  You’ll at least be pleased with a great chase, shootout or suspenseful sequence of events.  There’s also some crafty camera work at play or some sort of inventive twist you’ve not seen done before.  Johnnie To’s Drug War is no different.  This film is a race against the clock that keeps you on your tows and thrills you with its action beats.  It’s a film that is surprisingly not very nice toward its protagonists and ends in a action sequence that makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the events.  Well Go USA imports this one in the barest of bare forms, but is the film good enough to recommend on its own, without the enhancement of extras?

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Film 

In China, manufacturing 50 grams of meth will land you a death sentence.  Dealer/manufacturer Tommy Choi gets himself in a pickle when his factory blows up (killing his wife and 2 brothers) and a bus full of people hiding meth balls in their anal cavities is busted.  But Tommy is not the culprit behind the big cartel Captain Zhang is looking for.  Desperate, the ability to avoid execution if Tommy will help bring down the big bad in charge of the cartel.  They only have a 72 hour window to do so.  Is Tommy someone the police can count on?

Drug War is a pretty unapologetic crime thriller.  Its doesn’t shy away from the violence and grotesque and is not friendly in how it treats its lead characters.  You get everything from some graphic removal of meth balloons from peoples’ asses to some full on overdose sequences.  It’s a very rough side of the world in Drug War’s pursuit of cleaning the streets of it’s biggest meth operation.

The film is a very tense, suspenseful race to get to the kingpin of the operation.  There is a fantastic sequence of a mirrored undercover operation that completely displays a tremendous performance from Honglei Sun.  It gives him the opportunity in the film to display 3 different sides of himself and the guy absolutely kills it.  The film also ends in an incredibly real feeling and brutal shootout.  Its very unapologetic and gets nasty with the film’s main cast.  It’s quite a thrill and should have you jumping in your seat and saying “holy shit” until its conclusion.

Drug War is a pretty solid up and down crime thrill that steers well clear of being above average.  The film sports some great performances, tense situations and action shootouts that will keep your eyes peered on the screen until the credits roll.  This is definitely an import that people should be checking out.  While he has quite an extensive filmography, I am interested in checking out more films similar to this from director Johnnie To after seeing this movie.

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Video 

Drug War’s 1080p MPEG-4 AVC picture is kind of a grim one, but it fits the mood and tone of the film.  The 2:40.1 frame is akin to a cloudy rainy day.  The colors are defined but not boldly claiming their presence.  Skin tones and the overall look of the film is very cold.  The image is a very well defined, sharper one, but not incredibly well defined.  Its better than average, but looks very much like many of the films you see coming from this region.

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Audio 

The Chinese 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a nice clean track that has a great definition to all its sounds, but lacks any sort of real impact until the final scene in the movie.  The volume on it is rather light most of the way.  The subwoofer could have been put to more use here.  Also, the sound is very front heavy.  There’s car chases and some violence that could have engaged the viewer more had they been A) louder and B) deeper.  The final action sequence, however, does deliver on all of this (although still could use some more “boom” from the sub).

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Extras 

This disc is pretty much bare bones’d as can be.  And, although you can select them individually, the rest of the trailers will play if you select one.

Trailer (2:03)

Previews

  • IP Man: The Final Fight (1:46)
  • The Guillotines (1:56)
  • New World (1:39)

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Summary 

Drug War is a great thriller about bringing down a meth cartel.  The presentation is a pretty good one.  However, the film is severely knee capped in the extras department.  I really would have enjoyed looking into the making of some of the sequences and how this film’s story holds up to real life meth problems in China.  Instead we’re just treated to the film’s trailer and trailers that are on all other Well Go USA releases.  The film, however is top notch and should definitely be seen.  Just don’t expect and more from this release.


Drug-War-Blu-ray

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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