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qxB (1988)
City War

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 11/10/2010
Summary: Not very good

Chow Yun-Fat and Ti Lung team up as buddy cops with the usual hot-headed rule-breaker vs. calm and collected relationship (though which actor gets which character is arguably surprising) when a rather nasty villain imprisoned by Ti Lung 10 years earlier is released and is still - understandably - annoyed about having his balls shot off during his arrest, and thinking of vengeance. More stock characters are produced, e.g. the police commander who seems more concerned with the criminals' well-being than letting good cops break any law they fancy in the pursuit of enforcing them (the film's major message, if there is one).

Given the leads and the cops vs robbers genre it's tempting to think "Yay, more A BETTER TOMORROW", but CITY WAR just serves to emphasise how good John Woo actually is as a director, by failing to be anywhere near as good as ABT. The story suffers from characters acting stupidly and implausibly, leading to a general lack of care for their welfare because everybody invariably deserves whatever mishaps befall them. Chow Yun-Fat has evidently been instructed to 'add some character' by being a bit quirky, but completely fails to deliver a role as memorable as Mark from ABT. No amount of quirkiness can really cover for a poorly written script.

There's a couple of scenes of gunplay which are suitably over the top, but totally lacking the choreography and cinematography of Woo's better films, and therefore much less interesting or exciting.

I've watched the film 3 times now, and each time I want it to be good - feel that it should be, maybe I'm just missing something. Sun Chung has delivered some solid films for Shaw Brothers before, but he definitely doesn't deliver here. I am finally forced to conclude that it is, simply, not a very good film.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 12/06/2006
Summary: "naff off, twit!"

aah! breathe it in; can you smell it? yes, it's that slightly eneasy mixture of humour, melodrama, tragedy and violence that, even when it doesn't quite gel, often crops up in hong kong cinema. especially in the eighties...

ken (ti lung) is an older cop, who's never risen through the ranks, mainly as a result of his firey temperament. his good friend, dicky (chow yun-fat), is younger, but his calm demeanour has seen him elevated to the role of police negotiator. despite their differences, the two are good friends. their lives are going pretty well until yui (norman chu), a triad that ken arrested years ago (after his partner shot him in the "family jewels"), is released and comes looking for revenge...

now, the film does start off at a pretty slow pace, but it begins to build up and up for it's duration; ending with some all out high-king, gun-blazing action. ti lung is solid throughout, almost understated in his performance. although, this may just appear to be the case as, chow yun-fat is at his gurning, over-acting, yet at times, suprisingly cool and bad-assed best. there's a couple of disco scenes, where you will be embarassed for him, and some vintage running around with guns, that's pretty damn cool. norman chu relishes being the bad guy and seems to enjoy every ball-less moment of his revenge.

it's a shame that the disc is another 'joy sales' remaster, that doesn't appear to have been remastered and still has pretty daft subtitles; i'm sure that young shoplifter didn't say "naff off" or keep calling people "twits". likewise, it's disappointing to see that the text epilogue, that wasn't translated on the old disc, remains untranslated.

all in all, it's a film that starts off in a decidedly average fashion, but just gets better and better as it goes on.

not great, but pretty good.

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/19/2003

Chow and Ti play the classic mis-matched buddy cops -- Chow is the idealistic rookie, while Ti is the hot-headed veteran. When a criminal (Chu) from Ti's past gets out of jail and begins threatening Ti's family, the two cops disregard orders and team up to stop the villain.

City War could have been a really great movie, but it just comes off as slightly above-average. Chow and Ti always have great chemistry together, and the prospect of seeing them in some Woo-style bloodshed is always enticing. However, the script and pacing of City War is really weak. It takes nearly an hour of the film's 90 minutes before the plot really gets moving, much of the time wasted in seemingly unnecessary subplots. What should have been a gripping crime drama sometimes comes off as a cheesy romantic comedy. To its credit, City War does finally start to gel together in the last half-hour or so, finishing off with a shootout that should please most HK action fans.

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/20/2002
Summary: Police propoganda film

According to this film, being a police officer is really dangerous, not just for you, but for your family as well.

No doubt _some_ police work, such as undercover work, is quite dangerous, but your average beat cop or detective is at less danger than a truck driver or garbage collector. Both of the latter professions, according to the US Department of Labor, have 2-3 times as many fataties per year as police officers!

So this sort of film serves little purpose other than police propoganda.

Bah, I can do without it.

So that's the purely political viewpoint, what about the artistic/entertainment value?

Well, the plot has been done to death before, and been done better. The acting is decent, particularly the two leads. The one big action sequence at the end isn't bad.

But it isn't terribly good, either.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Worth seeing

City War in all honesty is nothing special, but it's worth seeing for sure. Chow Yun Fat & Ti Lung have been teamed up on several occasions and they work well together. This movie is no exception to that either, and expect the usual comedy between them, mixed with plenty of action.

Ti Lung is a cop whos family is targeted by a criminal who has just been released from jail who is out to get Ti Lung, who put him in prison in the first place. The story breaks no new ground, but is worthy of watching, and is very enjoyable. The movie ends in the usual way (if you've seen all of Chow Yun Fats action movies, you will know what I mean!), which was predictable from the beginning.

Someone else said that Chow Yun Fat was not very interesting in this, and I would agree with that to a certain extent. Ti Lung on the otherhand was very good. Chow Yun Fat just didn't seem to have his heart in this one.

Rating (out of 5): 3.5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Pretty Good

A above average movie but i found Chow Yun Fat's character a little annoying for some reason. The action is good so what more do you want?


Reviewed by: dragyn
Date: 03/04/2001

"City War" is an enjoyable film, but not a wholly good - or even artistically competent - one. The concept of the movie is fine, but is executed in a manner so flawed that it becomes lost.

The plot is about Dick Lee (Chow Yun-Fat) and Ti Lung (sorry, can't remember his on-screen name), two cops who begin to experience difficulties when a crook that Ti Lung imprisoned gets out of prison, bearing a serious grudge towards him. To make matters worse, Dick Lee starts dating said crook's girlfriend. Which, understandably, spells trouble.

The first two-thirds of this movie take the form of a joyful romantic comedy, domintated by the happy-go-lucky presence of Dick Lee. Then suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, the last-third hits, and we are plunged into an abyss of gritty drama, tragedy, and graphic violence and death. It sounds like it should work, but somehow it just doesn't. Instead of being shocking and emotionally involving, this metamorphosis succeeds only in making the movie feel more like two movies from two completely different genres, unseccessfully tacked on to each other.

I rate this movie 7/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: TequilaYuen
Date: 06/11/2000
Summary: mid eighties action cheese!

This film is so eighties! but i love it anyway, the same way i like Predator, Lethal Weapon andThe Running Man. The eighties were all about cheesy action. But this film has something all the others don't....Chow Yun Fat!

Yun-Fat plays Dick Lee, a hk police negotiator. Always under his control Is Ti Lung, as a veteran hot-head cop with a personal grudge against the criminals he cathes. All hell breaks loose when a criminal (named Ted -HA!) Ti Lung put away gets out of prison, and slaughters Lungs family. Thrown into the mix, Yun Fat is romancing Ted's disenchanted girlfriend.

What i like about this film is it would have been instantly forgettable if is wasn't for the two leads, they both ooze charisma. Yun-Fat's character is obviously modeled after Don Johnson on Miami vice (white suits, pink and blue lighting of Miami nightclubs). Ted's girlfriend wears hideous white sunglasses and a matching polka dot dress looking like an extra in a Wham
The film is also pretty gritty and violent, the Ted character is very believable, especially whenhe is trying to romance his g/f as he burns himself with a cigarette. The slaughter of Lungs family at machinegun point is extremely brutal, and shown in loving detail. But as one assasin takes a header off of a roof with Lungs child in hand, i couldn't help but laugh. The dummy child is horrible!

The finale to this film pulls out all the stops, extremely violent, includes Ti Lung being hit with a fireaxe and Chow yun Fat eating more bullets than he did in a better tomorrow. Beware of the end titles, a paragraph comes up at the end giving some sort of epilogue to the film, however it is not subtitled. If anyone has any info on this, please mail me ( All in all- good heroic bloodshed fare.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

Chow Yun Fat and Ti Lung team up to play top cops in a deadlybattle with a drug-dealing maniac out on a rampage.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]

Reviewed by: wrlouis
Date: 12/09/1999

Ti Lung and Chow Yun-Fat play partner cops in this entertaining and violent buddy movie. Ti Lung is a hot-head with a grudge against the criminals he chases, constantly in trouble with his supervisors for his neglect of police procedure. CYF is an understanding mediator, whose glibness manages to get his partner out of trouble more than once. When an ex-con (brooding villain Norman Chu (Tsui Siu-Keung)) starts hunting down Ti Lung's family, he gets a lot more than he bargained for in return. Features the usual problems of heroic bloodshed (gore, sexism, cheesy lines, etc) but worth watching for the exhiliration of seeing Ti Lung and CYF battling evil together.