A generic title, a generic plot, but Hong Kong director Johnnie To manages to liven things up with so much zesty characterization & sharp narrative feints, he refreshes this undercover sting operation story. Or does for the first two-thirds. Louis Koo is the high-level drug boss caught with enough meth to get the death penalty. His only way out? Work with the police to take down his associates. But how far can the cops trust him? A familiar tune, but To lays it out so cleanly (sort of a cross between Michael Mann & Don Siegel) that action becomes charged with wit. And he gets a tremendous boost from second lead Honglei Sun as the hard-charging Police Captain, a dour fellow who breaks past his natural reserve to mimic some of the wilder drug dealers when he’s undercover. Third Act blues set in with too many cop brigades, allegiance reversals & armed combatants shooting it out during a crazed auto pile up. You’ll need a scorecard to keep things straight. Super tag ending, though.
DOUBLE-BILL: With 60 directing credits, there’s a lot of To to get to. ELECTION/’05 would be a good place to start.