City on Fire Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 19, 2007
Inspirational material, cops, and robbers all stem from Ringo Lam's City on Fire.A solidly written story backed with good storytelling gives this 100 minute picture life. Major characters receive much needed buildup along the way, leading to a conclusion with recognizable and familiar segments.Low budget caliber action and sound effects blows through the film from start to end. While some of it tends to be a little over the top, it doesn't feel out of place given the time frame of the film.Chow Yun-Fat is a star. His performance over shadows much of everything else that this film has to offer. Danny Lee proves to be an integral part of the story when the conclusion comes around. Carrie Ng, Roy Cheung, and Yueh Sun complete a package of supporting characters.City on Fire is Hong Kong cops and robbers at a high level with an ending of familiarity.
Super Reviewer
February 9, 2008
Jesus fucking christ, Tarantino didn't improve shit. This movie is great for it's own merits, and sadly has just ended up being refered as the "movie that inspired Tarantino". Which just adds further injury to the irony.

More than a mere action filler, this is a film about the characters. Back in the days when both Ringo Lam and Chow Yun Fat were the top dogs in the genre. recommended view for any serious HK movie aficionado.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2007
City on Fire is a solid crime flick and worth checking out if you're a fan Asian cinema, but lets get one thing straight right now...

Any one who says that Reservoir Dogs stole everything from this movie is not only just plain wrong, they CLEARLY don't know anything about film.

While there are similarities between Reservoir Dogs and City on Fire's third act, the rest of the film couldn't be more different. Reservoir Dogs is shorter, has completely different characters, a different structure, totally new dialog, and in emphasizes totally different elements of the classic bank robbery gone wrong plot.

Other than the undercover cop, the jewelry heist, and the fact it all ends badly, these two films are TOTALLY different in almost every way. Reservoir Dogs is a tighter, better acted, better written and better directed film. Watch the two films back to back and you'll see the differences between the two are painfully obvious.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2006
An undercover cop infiltrates a gang of jewelry thieves without the knowledge of the police unit investigating causing a conflict in his loyalties. City On Fire was one of the first HK action films to try and fully develop the idea of an undercover cop becoming immersed in the criminal underworld and the psychological price he would pay for it. As such it can be seen not only as the template for Reservoir Dogs but also the forerunner to modern crime films such as Infernal Affairs and obviously therefore The Departed. It is in fact only the final half hour in which the gang pull off their heist that forms the basis of Reservoir Dogs, and this sequence has stood the test of time; unfortunately the rest of the film has not fared so well. Chow Yun Fat is as charismatic as always, but his homelife is a bit too soapy and the humour therein is barely above the level of the average Jackie Chan movie, the police station politics contain the usual HK stereotypes and the soundtrack is terrible in the way that only 80s Hong Kong movie soundtracks are. However it is still far grittier and realistic than the vast majority of its contemporaries and as such can be seen as the stepping stone between the blend of macho posturing and sentimentality of the likes of John Woo and the sophistication of the modern heist movie. It's certainly still worth a watch for that reason, especially for fans of Tarantino who can see where the seeds of Reservoir Dogs were sown.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2008
hmm. i can tell this is a good heist film but it's hard for me to rate fairly as i watched a dubbed version. my bad. it makes everything look cheesy. it seems tarantino worked backward by expanding on the ending and actually created a better film in res dogs
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2007
Quite good action of a cop goes undercover as a gun-smuggler to infiltrate a gang that has staged a series of daring robberies, then has an identity crisis when he develops a friendship with one of the gangsters.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2012
I was thrilled watching Reservoir Dogs so I decided to check out the movie that Quentin Tarantino borrowed heavily from, though not as good, I found it to be a great movie.

An undercover cop, played by Chow Yun-Fat, infiltrates a gang of thieves who plan to rob a jewelry store. The story sounds familiar, but Quentin Tarantino doesn't borrow everything from this movie. For example, the bank robbery going bad is actually shown, Chou Yun-Fat character also has a love interest that wants him to commit to her, and Chow Yun-Fat character really wants to quit his job throughout the whole movie. Yet despite these differences, it's not as good as Reservoir Dogs. The story main problem is that Chow Yun-Fat character back story to wanting a marriage with his girlfriend is really not that interesting at all or adds emotional weight to this character from the audience.

The good and bad things about this movie also comes from the bank robberies. The first took too long to execute and wasn't all that entertaining and fun. Though the second and last robbery was a little better. Seeing the bank robbery go bad was entertaining in it own right, but the Mexican stand off at the end didn't thrill as much as it should have. City on Fire is like Reservoir Dogs, except it shows the robberies, a marriage back story, and not as captivating performances.

City on Fire is a surprisingly good movie despite not being at the same level as Reservoir Dogs as a whole. While I stilled like the movie, I feel that anyone who seen Reservoir Dogs won't be able completely enjoy it in the same level. Still worth checking if you're curious where Reservoir Dogs came from.
Super Reviewer
½ May 13, 2010
I really enjoyed it, but I do have to mention that I watched the dubbed version, which was a bit strange in a couple parts. I wished I could have had the option of watching it with subtitles but the DVD only had the dubbed version.

It's strange how the more films I watch the less respect I have for what I thought were Tarantino's "original" ideas.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2008
In the action department there are few movies I've seen that are more gripping and well directed. Ringo Lam uses Hong Kong New Wave aesthetics for great effect but doesn't over use them making the film too experimental. The style isn't as unique as someone like John Woo, but doesn't stand out above what's happening on screen. The only thing really to complain about is some of the more romantic/relationship scenes, it's not that romantic scenes were out of place, they just weren't played so well, and at times brought the pace to a grinding halt, yet they do factor huge in the end so they are nessesary and, really, a little flaw.
And of course, in alot of cases a movie is only as good as it's climax, and this film has an incredible final 30 minutes, borrowed heavily, of course, by Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs (as I guess is old news), yet still appears amazing, and to be corny: Edge-of-your-seat.
Needless to say, I want to see more Ringo Lam, if this is the kind of thing he puts out.
August 8, 2009
The monument of Hong Kong films, the germ of Hong Kong noir, and an immortal masterpiece which keeps influencing on many future films. Well known as the archetype of Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and the modern classic of Hong Kong noir "The Infernal Affairs." The first half is little bit slow and has some unnecessary scenes and subplots, but it also describes well about Chow Yun-Fat character's private life and background, and it makes the excitement of the second half much more. The basic theme of Hong Kong noir - "The good die, and the bad live" - is already said here by one character. The climax at the garage is one of the best scene ever made among all crime suspence films. The combination of Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee shows superb performance (It's interesting that their roles - a cop and a gangster - are opposite here to ones in John Woo's "The Killer"). Night scenes of Hong Kong are really really cinematic and spectacular. Jazzy soundtrack fits well to it in the first half, but in the second half, music works negatively in speedy action sequences.
½ May 29, 2008
The movie that inspired Quentin Tarantino's Resevoir Dogs. The chemistry between Danny Lee and Chow Yun-Fat is great.
September 12, 2007
A very cool gangster/heist flick. A bit long in parts, still some flaws, but the performances, very well-staged action, and cool atmosphere make up for it. A satisfying piece of work and indeed, the perfect companion to Reservoir Dogs! (which was very much a love letter to this film)
½ June 17, 2007
a role that made Chow Yun Fat into Chow Yun Fat besides The Killer and A Better Tomorrow a must see movie for sure
May 15, 2007
beautiful, one of the best Chow Yun Fat films I have ever seen. Ringo Lam is great directing this, check out some of his other films.
½ November 21, 2006
When someone mentions "Reservoir Dogs" then mention "City on Fire" since it shows you know about Hong Kong cinema, Tarantino's influences and the knowledge that subtitles in a film do not equal shitty.
½ September 3, 2006
I had to see this movie because Reservoir Dogs was based off it's ending. When you get down to it, though, it's a pretty generic cop drama.
½ October 4, 2013
This hong kong crime/action movie that inspired, in a small part, Tarantino's masterpice "Reservoir Dogs", may seem slow at times but the view is nice and exciting, it's also original and does't miss to be cruel and touching.
July 30, 2013
Good little Ringo Lamb movie. I can see where Reservoir Dogs borrows from it heavily. This was fun to watch, because I just pretend Chow was Mr. Orange, and the movie kind of worked like a prequel to Reservoir Dogs. Which was fun. The cinematography was especially fun in this. As usual for great Hong Kong crime, the entire film is poetic as hell. The ending is great. Good way to wrap things up. I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to go through Ringo's catalog. Good Concept, Good Execution.
November 25, 2012
"City on Fire" the first entry in a quartet of director Ringo Lam's "...on Fire" films focuses on the dismal state of Hong Kong, a society overrun by crime and violence. In a radical departure from his perennial role as a member of law enforcement Danny Lee helms a group of jewel thieves who Chow Yun-fat -- a forlorn undercover cop -- has lost himself within. Western audiences often cite this film as the inspiration for "Reservoir Dogs" Quentin Tarantino's 99-minute exercise in male posturing.
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