WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.
My personal rule of thumb is to avoid children’s movies at all costs. One because they are difficult to judge and recommend to people inside my age group and two, I’ve officially reached the age where watching kid movies alone in a room full of children is officially labelled ‘weird’. So for anyone wondering why I’m not reviewing ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ or any other kids movie going forward, you got your answer. On the bright side, my ageism towards films allows me to watch a film I probably wouldn’t otherwise. So for this review, I’m taking my talents to Hong Kong and reviewing a Chinese crime thriller called Cold War 2.
Now I had to do a little research before watching Cold War 2 so I looked at this film’s predecessor Cold War, a critical success from 2012. Set in Hong Kong which is called ‘Asia’s safest city’ (I hate to see the most dangerous city) a police van carrying advanced equipment and five police officers goes missing and is held for ransom. This leads to a controversial rescue mission called ‘Cold War’ which puts Deputy Commissioners Sean Lau played by Aaron Kwok and Waise Lee played by Tony Leung Ka-fai at odds on how to get the job done. Both men are fighting for a spot as Police Commissioner and see the future of the department at a much higher price than the safety of the hostages or the force’s reputation.
This civil war continues into Cold War 2, where we begin with Sean Lau who has become Commissioner of Police in Hong Kong following the events of the first Cold War. When his wife is kidnapped by Former Police Constable Joe Lee, son of Waise Lee who took the fall for the crimes in the first film, Joe manages to escape a failed operation and Sean takes the heat for the botched operation leaving his future in power in Hong Kong in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, Waise Lee is secretly working behind the scenes with a powerful organization trying to take complete control over all the government aspects of the city.
Now admittedly I’m a sucker for crime dramas especially ones involving corruption on the government level. One of the key aspects I like about this film is that it exposes you all the different sides of power coming into play and shows you how easy it is to corrupt the various levels of government. Waise Lee and his son are essentially used as pawns to ensure a controlling interest in the Police department as well as city legislators. In a scene straight out of an Alex Jones Illuminati wet dream. The most powerful people in Hong Kong hold a private meeting and detail their conspiracy to remove Sean as commissioner, with him gone there isn’t an office in government they wouldn’t control giving them full reign in Asia’s safest city.
While the story may seem heavy-handed for some, Cold War 2 keeps from drowning in its own narrative by using great set pieces and action to balance out its pace. For all the great tension building that is presented keeping you constantly guessing the motives behind the main characters, it is the dynamic action that keeps you on edge. Intense scenes involving a bomb threat in a subway, an amazing shootout scene in a tunnel which changes the direction of the film when allies of both sides take heavy losses and a chase screen at the end which becomes a checkmate in a game of human chess. This is truly a war against corruption and neither comes out clean when it’s all said and done.
My biggest complaint was without watching the first movie, it was hard to figure out character motivations i.e. who are the good guys and the bad guys. But the more you watch, the more you realize that guys like Sean and Lee don’t really fit the good/bad cop narrative. Both guys try to do what they think it right but have different methods of doing so, leading to a conflict of judgement. In reality, it’s outside forces manipulating their shades of grey to get their desired result. For a movie that is only in a limited release in the States, I highly recommend seeing this film before it leaves theaters and if you don’t get it in time, it is a must own when available. Cold War 2 gets my vote for best movie of the weekend. The story can feel too complicated at times but it also shows that there are great action movies coming from the Far East side of the world.
Official Rating: – ****
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