City on Fire (1987)
Directed by: Ringo Lam
Starring: Roy Cheung, Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Carrie Ng, Sun Yueh
Tagline: "Have you ever died before?"
An undercover cop is killed during an operation and his superior, Uncle Lau (Sun Yeuh), investigates. This leads to him sending a group of his men to try and get a former undercover cop, Ko Chow (Chow Yun-Fat) onto the case. In the meantime, there is a daring raid on a jewellery store that leads to the deaths of at least two police officers, and much chaos.
Ko reluctantly agrees to go undercover to try and infiltrate the gang. Not helping matters is his girlfriend who is fed up with him and wants to leave. He springs a surprise on her though, which leads to a classic line: "What! Are you going to propose to me in a toilet?"
Ko manages to make contact with the gang but he is being trailed by the CID. who are being led by a nasty police sergeant (Roy Cheung), who is Uncle Lau's superior even though he is younger.
The gang wants Ko to get weapons for them, to which Lau reluctantly agrees so the police know how many firearms they have. As they are hard-as-nails not-afraid-of-anything criminals, Ko brings the gang their weapons in a graveyard at midnight.
As you expect, Ko is getting cut off from any support within the police and the gang is getting more demanding. Which one will cause his downfall?
I have heard all the arguments about how Quentin Tarrinto ripped of this movie for Reservoir Dogs, and to be honest I am tired of it. Both Hong Kong and Hollywood movies take influences from each other and it benefits both sides.
I have noticed several recent Hong Kong movies that have influences from Tarrinto movies (Enter the Phoenix even has a scene straight from Kill Bill.) John Woo's movie Bullet in the Head seems to have taken major influences from The Deer Hunter also.
The best thing about this movie is Chow Yun-Fat's performance in the lead role of Ko. I also liked Sun Yeuh's portrayal as Uncle Lau, the world-weary and honourable mentor to Ko. The gangsters are pretty much the same as I have seen in every other triad movie with a few notable exceptions.
Probably the best thing that you can say about this movie is that it continues to remain in print, while many similar movies from around the same time are no longer available. There is still a great deal of interest in this film many years after its release I there will continue to be so.