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Laramie Movie Scope: Drug War

Capital punishment, drugs and murder galore

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 10, 2013 -- This film about cops and drug dealers in China is a lot like a story set in the Old West with outlaws and lawmen engaged in gun battles. There probably is a point to all this lost in the translation, but to me, this was just a big fight between drug dealers and police. It is one doozy of a fight, too.

The film starts out with a deadly explosion at a remote methamphetamine factory. A lone man, Timmy Choi (played by Louis Koo) survives the blast and is seen erratically driving his car down the road. He is foaming at the mouth, poisoned by the drugs he was exposed to. He loses control of his car and it crashes into a store. When he wakes up, he is under arrest. Police Captain Zhang (Sun Honglei) gives him a choice -- cooperate with police or face the death penalty.

Given the choice, Choi agrees to cooperate with the police. He leads them to another meth factory, run by a pair of deadly deaf mute brothers. Choi also leads them to Uncle Bill (Li Zhenqi) the next man up the ladder in this criminal gang, but Uncle Bill is just a front, the real ring leader is Fatso (Lam Suet) and several other partners.

Zhang doesn't trust Choi, and with good reason. Choi is capable of selling out his friends, his business partners and the police too. Zhang leads a raid on the meth factory that turns deadly when the deaf brothers blast their way out and escape through a secret tunnel that Choi neglected to mention in the briefings.

The next police operation is to capture Uncle Bill, Fatso, and the other ringleaders of the drug gang, but once again Choi is a major complication as he tries to escape in the middle of a major shootout which he helps to engineer by tipping off the drug dealers. It seems the point of all this mayhem is to show that there are no winners in a drug war.

The death penalty also plays a role in the story. When criminals are faced with the death penalty, they have nothing to lose and this makes them even more dangerous. The death penalty is a two-edged sword in this story. On the one hand, it gives police leverage to force criminals to cooperate. On the other hand, it makes criminals desperate enough to take any desperate, deadly, dangerous risk to avoid capture.

In the end, it seems the police are more interested in revenge than in finding out what Choi knows. The police themselves seem to lack moral authority. Drug wars is simply a battle for supremacy. It is hard to say who will win this fight, or who should win this fight. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)