Not really a bad HK movie, although the storyline is way out there. A son plans a kidnap and ransom so that his father can become CP? “Cold War” wastes no time in building up suspense and thrill. Within a minute we already have an explosion in the middle of the most popular hang out place in Hong Kong. After that, the action never stops. The plot is very fast paced, it twists and turns in unexpected directions every few minutes. How does this relate to the next close-up shot of a lithe woman in black underwear walking around an apartment? None. The authorities storm the apartment just to wake up her sleeping boyfriend.
At this point onward, both Lee and Lau become prime suspects under the investigation of ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption), which is lead by a young ICAC investigator Billy Cheung (Aarif Rahman). According to Cheung, he has a reason to believe that Lee or Lau has something to do with the missing money and the overall conspiracy of the kidnapping case. Now the biggest question is: what really happens? If the synopsis above does sounds confusing to you, that’s because first-time writers and directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk stuffed way too many plots in a compact 102 minutes! Not to mention their script is overly convoluted, which is filled with lots of loopholes and questions that might frustrate a lot of impatient viewers throughout the movie. Then there’s Kwong Chi-Leung’s hyperactive editing which can be annoying at times especially with too many overlapping scenes (particularly during the rapid-fire, dialogue-heavy moments) that seriously demands the viewers to play some catch-ups. The second half, which involves the ICAC investigation between Billy, Lee and Lau as well as the elaborate conspiracy theory, is a serious head-scratcher when viewers tries to connect all the dots together.
I am not saying that “Cold War” is an outright bad film as the leading duo of Aaron Kwok and Tony Leung Kar Fai provide a strong backbone to the story and a number of key players of the police force are suitably casted, but the ICAC clan seems far too amateurish, naive and terribly acted that almost singled handedly destroyed anything good about the film. The cast, in the meantime, are rock-solid. Aaron Kwok gives a perfectly restrained performance (thank heaven he’s not overacting like he used to!) as the calm and confident Lau, while Tony Leung Ka-Fai is especially a standout as the no-nonsense Lee who seriously deserves an acting award nomination.
Cold War ends with a cliffhanger finale that screams a sequel. If the sequel is really made sometimes in the future, here’s hoping that Longman Leung and Sunny Luk manage to polish their rough-on-the-edges direction and their overstuffed screenplay into a more balanced approach. There is a lot to like here, yes, but there are glaring flaws that I just can’t overlook. The movie is benefited from lush production values and spectacular aerial shots. Too bad the CG is shotty. In the end, it is a love-hate film and my score shall reflect it as such.