Cold War (2000)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-12-19
Summary: Dreadful
I found it impossible to warm up to any of the characters in “Cold War”. It is a movie that just plods along with no particular destination in mind. It runs for 93 minutes, seems twice as long and should have been a lot shorter. It contained an incredible amount of padding—long shots of cars on an expressway, close ups of cars on city streets, enough shots of Christy Chung’s mini-suv, which was tricked out to look like a mobile storm trooper helmet from “Star Wars”—there was so much footage of cars that I expected a voice over extolling the merits of the all-new Kia for 1999. Additionally there were plenty of shots of urban wildlife—seagulls, slug-like bugs and the cleanest, whitest and fluffiest stray cat imaginable.

Simon Yam did a credible job of impersonating an assassin who is employed by a shadowy organization that is killing off the members of a multi-national gang which operates throughout Southeast Asia. He is efficient and deadly, capable to improvising on the spot, such as when he is given a picture of a target only to find the target sitting across the table from his twin brother. Instead of simply shooting them both he recognizes the right guy because of a characteristic gesture that happened to be caught on the one and only image he had of him. That was his 12th hit over the past three years and Ka Chu, Yam’s character, finally realizes that every one of them was a leader of the gang. He isn’t given very long to contemplate this, though, since the 13th killing has already been planned.

By all rights Ka shouldn’t have lived long enough to kill anyone. In the prologue he has to fight his way out of an ambush during a small unit military action on the China/Burma border that took place seven years before the action of the movie. Even while retreating under fire he saved (or tried of save—that we don’t know is just another example of the shoddy writing, editing and directing that characterizes “Cold War) someone from the attackers. When cornered he jumps a few hundred feet from a cliff into a river. But having been a soldier of fortune who has to resort to cliff diving isn’t the only reason that Ka has cheated death. The real death-defying action is that he smokes in every scene, including some very brief ones. For some reason Leung Kar-Yan thought it was essential to the character to have him sucking down nicotine whenever we saw him. This also created another way to use up time without advancing the plot, showing Ka lighting, smoking and disposing of cigarettes. In one too good to be true scene, the officer investigating Ka’s most recent hit finds a cigarette butt he has discarded—one that is tamped down and bent in a distinctive manner.

Leung’s use of color is quirky but is neither interesting nor intriguing. Some scenes are bathed in red, others in blue, still others in green. Whether this was done in post-production or by shooting with colored filters is really the only thing that could be of any interest since the color that dominates the scenes doesn’t seem to be connected to a character, the action on the screen or anything else.

There is a lot of gunplay—some characters show up simply to shoot or be shot while others are developed just enough so that when they are dispatched the audience is left with a “what was that all about?” feeling. The plot isn’t even paper-thin—it is hardly there at all. Ka is credibly motivated to become a paid assassin but only someone who is really dumb or who had nothing better to do would continue working for this particular bunch. There is some outrageously bad dialogue—for example Ka tells Maria, his contact/controller that he trusts his gun more than he trusts her, but he doesn’t love his gun. This isn’t the fault of the subtitles—it fits perfectly with the way Ka and everyone else in the movie babbles.

“Cold War” is a poorly made movie that is not worth watching.
Reviewer Score: 1