City on Fire (1987)

Viewed April 11th

An undercover cop develops a friendship with the criminal whose ring he's infiltrated. 

City on Fire is a kinetic cop action movie directed by Ringo Lam. Today it is perhaps best remembered for having some of its premise and Mexican-standoff finale stolen by Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs. And, indeed, Tarantino did blatantly rip-off City on Fire. But, at the same time, Tarantino also ripped off a lot of other films and, to some extent, that ripping-off is part of Tarantino's concept. Tarantino spins City on Fire and his other references and keeps spinning them and spinning them until they blur and it's only when you step back that a new pattern emerges from all these spinning cinematic objects. City on Fire is good at what it is, but it's not Tarantino. Nor, for that matter, is it the poetic apotheosis of Hong Kong gun ballet action genre that some may hope for.  The film's stars, Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee, will achieve that lofty goal when they reunite for John Woo's The Killer.