Review: THE WHITE STORM 扫毒 (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 6 December 2013

Review: THE WHITE STORM 扫毒 (2013)

A hugely entertaining but bloated crime thriller featuring solid performances from Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Nick Cheung.

After experimenting different action-movie themes from 2008's CONNECTED to 2011's SHAOLIN, it's nice to see director Benny Chan made a comeback to his cops-and-criminals genre since 2007's INVISIBLE TARGET. The result is THE WHITE STORM -- a familiar but solid crime thriller involving a police war against drugs (which also explored in Johnnie To's DRUG WAR earlier this year).


Narcotics Bureau Chief inspector Tin (Lau Ching-Wan), his right-hand man Wai (Nick Cheung) and undercover cop Chow (Louis Koo) are three childhood friends working together on busting drug-dealing operation in Hong Kong. Chow demands to be reinstated as a police officer so he can take care his pregnant wife, Chloe (Yuan Quan). However, things get complicated when the police commander wants them to apprehend Eight-Faced Buddha (Lo Hoi-Pang), a notorious drug kingpin from Thailand's Golden Triangle.

The action sequences, ranging from shootout to car chase, are spectacular. Visually speaking, all the technical credits are top-notch. Benny Chan, who obviously inspired his latest movie from one of his childhood idols, John Woo, does a solid job revisiting "heroic bloodshed" themes of brotherhood and sacrifice populated in the '80s and the early '90s.

All three actors -- Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Nick Cheung -- deliver remarkable and emotionally tense performances. Their brotherhood chemistry is strikingly similar to Chow Yun-Fat, Ti Lung and Leslie Cheung in 1986's A BETTER TOMORROW or even Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Waise Lee and Jacky Cheung in 1990's BULLET IN THE HEAD -- two of among John Woo's classics.

The helicopter shootout scene in the Thai wilderness and the bloody Mexican standoff in Galaxy Macau nightclub.

Likewise, "bloated" is the word that always plagued within Benny Chan's filmmaking style. He loves the heavy drama that grows as excessive as possible. And there are few of them that could have been trimmed shorter. As Eight-Faced Buddha, Lo Hoi-Pang's villainous performance is sadly underdeveloped.

Several flaws aside, THE WHITE STORM remains one of the best Hong Kong action movies of the year. For action-movie fans, this is the one not to be missed.

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