Bullet Points: Cold War (2012)
When I first saw Aaron Kwok in China Strike Force, I instantly became a fan. But at the time I had no idea he was considered one of Hong Kong’s “Four Heavenly Kings”.
As I have seen more of his film work, I begin to understand why Kwok has received the praise he has. And if 2012’s Cold War is any indication, Aaron Kwok just keeps getting better.
- Start With a Bang: Cold War starts with a bang (literally) as there is an explosion at a movie theater. While this explosion really has nothing to do with the rest of the events that unfold, it proved to be an effective attention grabber. The adrenaline rush continues as we see a drunk driver running amok on the streets of Hong Kong. I would like to point out that this action piece would tie in with the rest of the film and was not just another attention grabbing device as we would soon find out. The car is travelling at excessively high speeds to evade the authorities before it wipes out and ends up in two pieces. Miraculously the driver survives, but the fate of the five cops who respond to this call in the Emergency Unit van becomes a mystery. The cops and the van fall off the grid completely. The EU van is a state of the art law enforcement vehicle. In the wrong hands this fully loaded van can be very dangerous, so there is a sense of urgency to get this valuable asset back, not to mention the five police officers. The person or persons behind the disappearance have a diabolical plan to use the van and the five officers as bargaining chips to extort millions of dollars from the Hong Kong government.
- Solidarity: You might think that with five of their own in potentially grave danger, that the authorities would be able to come together and create a unified plan to get the officers back. The crisis instead splinters the police department and creates a power struggle between two of Hong Kong law enforcement’s most powerful, M.B. Lee (Tony Cheung), a man who rose up the ranks of the police department starting as a beat cop on the street and Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) a highly intelligent, career long bureaucrat with the Hong Kong PD. This power struggle starts due to the fact that the actual police commissioner is out of the country on business and it will be some time before he can return to Hong Kong and with the situation being one of a time sensitive nature, Lee assumes control of the police until the commissioner can return. But Lau is not confident in Lee’s leadership (he doesn’t even like the fact that Lau named the Operation Cold War), this lack of confidence is compounded by the fact that one of the five officers who is being held hostage is Lee’s son. Lau feels Lee should remove himself because Lee can not make clear decisions with his own flesh and blood involved. Lee disagrees, but Lau gets enough support to have Lee removed from power and it is Lau who assumes control. The rivalry between Lee and Lau adds a great amount of tension to the film and makes Cold War equal parts action and drama.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Sean Lau now finds himself in the thick of things as he is in direct contact with the hijackers and is asked by the head hijacker in charge to personally deliver 33 million dollars. This is the point of the film where the action really picks up again. Lau must carefully follow the instructions being relayed to him via phone so he can make the drop and bring an end to this situation. But the hijackers, knowing they hold all the cards in this scenario, do not make it easy on Lau and before it is all said and done, a valuable member of Lau’s team is killed in the line of duty trying to protect Lau.
- Scandalous: The final act of the film gets really heavy on the drama when it is discovered that some of the money that was to be used for the ransom payoff has gone missing. The missing money attracts the attention of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and more specifically an ambitious ICAC investigator Billy Cheung (Aarif Rahman). Billy launches a full blown investigation into Operation Cold War questioning all the major players along the way. Billy’s investigation keeps the audience guessing and plants some serious seeds of doubt where both the Lee and Lau characters are concerned.
Where Cold War is concerned, I came for the Kwok but stayed for the intrigue. While overthinking the film could lead to some loose ends and some plot holes, I thought overall Cold War was an engaging action thriller. The tension between Kwok and Cheung’s characters is palpable. During my research of the film, I saw one pundit compare Kwok and Cheung’s on-screen chemistry with that of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman’s in Crimson Tide. That was a PERFECT analogy and I really wish I would have thought that up myself.
I may have missed the analogy boat, but I did think up these Bonus Bullet Points all on my own…
- The Set Up: The end of the film left the door open for a sequel to be made, including Billy being offered a job with the police force.
- The Sequel: A sequel to Cold War was produced and released in 2016. Aaron Kwok, Tony Cheung and Aarif Rahman are among the actors who returned for the sequel. Chow Yun-Fat (Hard Boiled and The Killer) joined the cast for Cold War II.
- Familiar Face: While Cold War was produced in Hong Kong and features some of Hong Kong’s biggest stars (like Andy Lau), there was at least one face that American audiences that don’t follow the Hong Kong action scene would recognize… Byron Mann (he played one of the hijackers). Among Mann’s movie credits are Street Fighter (with Jean-Claude Van Damme), Sniper 3 (with Tom Berenger) and The Corruptor (with Chow Yun-Fat and Mark Wahlberg).
- Not That Cold War: In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this movie has absolutely nothing to do with the geopolitical tensions between the United States and Soviet Union following World War II.