Donnie Yen stars as infamous real-life drug kingpin Crippled Ho, who came to Hong Kong an illegal immigrant in 1963 and ruthlessly carved an empire from the chaotic underworld of drug dealers and corrupt police that ruled the city under notorious detective Lee Rock (Andy Lau).
What We Thought:
Chasing the Dragon feels like a Scorsese inspired crime drama set in Hong Kong. Add in the fact that it stars Donnie Yen and Andy Lau and as the kids say, I am here for that.
Based on a true story, the film feels like an American mobster movie with two of the biggest names in Asian cinema. Yen’s character starts out as a low-end gangster, but when he joins forces with Lau’s dirty cop, they become kingpins moving mountains of drugs in China.
The film has a ton of style and with the use of period era music, it looks every bit a 1970s Marin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola film. Yen and Lau may be known for big action films, but there isn’t much action in this. There are some fight scenes and gun work, but don’t look for another Ip Man. And I’m ok with that. Both men get to show their range as actors. Plus both are aging and can’t do what they might have done before. Both could still whoop my butt in real life, but I like seeing them playing fleshed out characters with range.
I wasn’t familiar with the real life story and it’s pretty fascinating. Hong Kong was still under British rule at the time and British cops had more pull than the locals. Lau’s cop didn’t like that, Yen’s gangster hated it even more. The Brits thought they were above their own law and made enemies because of that. Add in the other local gangs and warlords and Hong Kong was a very dangerous place.
Films like Chasing the Dragon are ones I name when Americans say they don’t like foreign films. This takes place in Hong Kong and isn’t in English (besides the Brits), but it’s very much a movie an American who likes crime dramas could watch and enjoy. If you like old Scorsese or Coppola or gangster films, then this is…
Cast & Crew:
- Donnie Yen
- Andy Lau