Drug War (2013)

drug warDrug War is the latest film from Hong Kong Director, Johnnie To. To, known for movies involving crime and action, is back in the spotlight with this new undercover drug operation film.

The film follows Timmy Choi (Louis Koo), a Drug Lord who’s taken into captivity along with some of his crew. Mainly, he smuggles and deals cocaine, with a little bit of heroine on the side. Knowing that he will receive the death penalty, Choi pleads with Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei) to allow him to live, in exchange for the key players in his drug operation. Fortunately for him, Choi is spared and is now entered into the undercover world.

During his time undercover, he and Captain Zhang will pose as a dealer and buyer duo that will try to get to the top of one of China’s largest drug units. Unfortunately for Choi, most of his family is involved in this drug ring. However, Captain Zhang and his force don’t know that. Their undercover endeavors will take them to the brink of death and to places they may not return from. Zhang will find himself in a new setting where one wrong move may cost him his life. Choi, on the other hand, has the advantage and may go rogue at any point. Can Zhang  trust Choi to follow through with his word and help take down his own drug empire?

While Drug War may be a film from Hong Kong, it’s got fantastic English subtitles and a great story that will keep you interested. I’ve always heard that a lot of Hong Kong movies are better than most of the movies that we have here and Drug Wars has given me some assurance that said statement may be true. The film has a lot of the same elements that our American Films do but can’t pull off. Drug War pulls them off.

Not being as familiar with Hong Kong films, I’m at the disadvantage of not really knowing many of the players. I enjoyed most of this cast, including the character HaHa, who is a drug dealer that often says  “haha”. For the most part, I enjoyed this movie quite a bit and I didn’t find a lot wrong with it. I also haven’t seen enough Hong Kong films to realize if something is the matter, so that might be why I enjoyed it so much.

The film has a great story that’s combined with two stellar leads. They give some of the better and more convincing performances compared to the movies I’ve seen this year and they really help move the story along. There isn’t a lot of female involvement in this film, but it wasn’t the end of the world either. All in all, if you can find this movie, I’d definitely recommend you give it a watch because it’s something new and something quite fun! If you’re searching for more reason to go and see this, keep reading for my Top Ten Thoughts on Drug War!

What I Enjoyed

What I Didn’t Enjoy

The subtitles in this film are dubbed really well.

The female characters in this film don’t serve a large purpose.

This film has such a vast array of intriguing characters.

It gets hard to distinguish which characters are good and which ones are bad.

Louis Koo’s Bad/Good guy provides an interesting look on how he views aspects of his work.

A lot of characters are actually quite laughable and don’t serve as a serious purpose as they should.

Honglei Sun is the best part of this movie. His ability to rapidly change character types is amazing!

We don’t get enough of the character “HaHa”. He’s hilarious and serious at the same time. He provides a lot of much-needed laughs.

The films fast pacing and creative dialog makes the films 1:47 runtime seem much shorter.

There are a group of mute, drug workers that just kind of appear. I don’t know why they’re mute, but I can’t help but think that doesn’t help when it comes to being a drug manufacturer.

The handling of undercover operations in this film is one of the best I’ve seen. There are many moments of worry and suspense.

Early on in the movie, there’s an explosion at a factory. I don’t recall them explaining why it exploded, but I feel like it had something to do with Meth failures.

It is really interesting to watch the lengths one man would go to in order to save his own skin. The human survival mechanism is displayed well.

As cool and as fun as this film is, it is something similar to what you’ve probably seen before. It may seem new at first, but that might just be because it’s a foreign film with actors you’ve never seen.

The action in this film is awesome! The blood and violence aren’t held back and it all looks pretty realistic

There are a lot of different drugs handled in the film. It’s tough to distinguish which dealers are dealing which drug.

The ending of this movie is simply fantastic. One of the better shootouts I’ve seen in a movie.


As far as movies from Hong Kong go, this is easily the best one of seen. The story is elaborate and interesting and the whole “undercover” aspect of the film is executed superbly.

As fun and as different at this movie is, at its core, it follows a lot of the same tropes that most American movies do. To its credit, however, it does those things extremely well.


Drug War is the most enjoyable foreign film that I’ve seen. To my credit, I’ve seen quite a few of them too. The two leads in this film provide exhilarating performances that fuel an even more exhilarating movie. Yes, the story is a multitude of  many different tropes from other films, but Drug War handles them better than most. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, I’d highly recommend you try to find Drug War in a theater near you! It’s a lot of fun and a lot better than most of the movies I’ve seen this year.

Drug War Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVRd40bOPpk

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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