Chasing the Dragon
aka 追龍 aka Chui Lung aka Zeoi Lung
Written and directed by Wong Jing and Jason Kwan Chi-Yiu
A stellar performance from Donnie Yen elevates Chasing the Dragon to being a film that Hong Kong fans need to see. Yen gets to stretch his acting muscles underneath some early ridiculous wigs, and is joined by Andy Lau, who also spends some time doing actual acting while taking bribes and consolidating power. Wong Jing proves he can still put out some good stuff, and every time he does it just makes his bad movies even worse. If Wong Jing was consistent, he’d be the greatest filmmaker of all time. But then he wouldn’t really be Wong Jing, so I guess this will do.
Despite a slow start that fumbles around before it gets focused, Chasing the Dragon becomes a pretty good crime drama. Yen plays Crippled Ho, who is based on real gangster Ng Sek-ho (his story was previously told in 1991’s To Be Number One, of which this is a sort of remake, though I’m confused on if it is an actual official remake or just similar.) Andy Lau plays his Lee Rock character from the Lee Rock series (which was based on real life corrupt policeman Lui Lok), which makes this one of those weird films that is a remake but also a reboot but also based on real life. You know, something very easy to classify!
Crippled Ho begins as an illegal immigrant from the mainland who turns to fighting with street gangs for easy cash, and soon catches the eye of up and coming policeman Lee Rock. Fate binds them together through series of ups and downs of both characters as they begin flexing their muscles in controlling the various criminal elements in a very corrupt Hong Kong. Lee Rock has learned that just being the honest cop sort of sucks when everyone else is on the take, while Crippled Ho is forced towards crime by the same system that keeps the Hong Kong people down, Mainlanders even below them, and the corrupt and brutal British on top.