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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.
May 30, 2007
Stunning 80s crime story from Ringo Lam - one of HK's finest directors ever. And yes, by the end you realize this is the story of what happened in Reservoir Dogs before that film begins. Extra cool.

Compared to The Killer and A Better Tomorrow it falls a little short but it's still one of the best HK cop dramas of the 80s.
February 16, 2012
alot like 'resevoir dogs"
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.
September 24, 2013
I was so ready to write a long thing about how this isn't at all like Reservoir Dogs... until the last 15 minutes but honestly most of the film is more like The Departed (or Internal Affairs) it's just at the end it's like someone came in and put Reservoir Dogs in on fast forward. Good movie, but RD is better. To all those people who say Reservoir Dogs is a shot-for shot remake, NO it isn't. Quentin Tarantino clearly saw this movie before he made his, but this really does dance the line between remake and inspired by. He needs to come out and admit he's seen and admit I saw this had an idea how to do it the basic story better but instead he keeps saying "I hope to see it one day."
Erick F.
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.
July 22, 2013
Ringo Lam's gives us one of the greatest crime flicks ever made. After forming a friendship with his last undercover target. Cop Chow reluctantly goes back undercover with a gang of jewel thiefs. Cinema at it's very best.
June 25, 2013
a little out there, but still good.
July 7, 2007
Considered a Hong Kong action classic, but didn't really do it for me. Tarantino lifted a fair bit from this for 'Reservoir Dogs'.
December 17, 2012
Tää on pitänyt katsoa jo pitkän aikaa koska väitetään että Tarantino Reservoir Dogs on City On Firen SUORA KOPIO. Mikä on kyllä nyt todettu ihan paskapuheeksi. Tunti nelkyt minsaa kestävässä City on Firessä on ehkä n. 5 minuuttia "suoria" yhtäläisyyttä RD:n kanssa. Täysin eri leffa mitä tulee kokonaistyyliin ja juonenkuljetukseen. Kaiken kaikkiin City on fire ei minusta yllä parhaiden honkkareiden tasolle mutta ihan viihdyttävä. Jotenkin ajansyömä tyylillisesti. Surkeasta huumorista ja romantiikkalässystä miinusta.
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.
October 5, 2012
Bit cheesy but nevertheless a very good crime drama film. Can see why Tarantino was inspired by this. Action sequences were handled quite well. As usual Yun Fat Chow is fantastic in his bad-ass role. Solid film from Hongkong.
August 13, 2012
The original Reservoir Dogs. More understandable and less dialogue of who dun'it? of Tarantino's classic!!!!!

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.
April 7, 2012
I liked Reservoir Dogs
April 4, 2012

Essentially, the movie Reservoir Dogs ripped off.
March 31, 2012
Definitely the inspiration for Reservoir Dogs, this little Ringo Lam crime drama is what Hong Kong cinema is all about, the plot and emotion are added together perfectly, you really feel for Chow-Yun Fat's character as he is foiled into something that he doesn't want to do, and if that's bad, he has a nagging fiancà (C) at home. Real great acting throughout as you feel the friendship build between Yun-Fat's and Danny Lee's characters, building up to the emotional ending.
February 15, 2012
Quite a simple and slow moving story of a undercover cop infiltrating a robbery gang. Not much action and kept at a tight timing. A snitch is been killed by a gang of thugs. Sun Yueh is the inspector in charge. Chow Yun-Fat go to a club to find his girl Carrie Ng and created troubles, the cops arrested him. Sun Yueh summon him to the mortuary. Chow and the dead snitch are undercover cops actually. Sun want Chow to take over his role. He doesn't want to do such job anymore. He feels irksome to betray his gangster friend who is like a brother to him. A group of robbers attack a jewelry store. Danny Lee is at the guard room to disable the alarm but a guard fight him. After Danny took care of him, he join the rest upstairs. An old lady saw the robbery and escape down, call two patrol cops. Danny went down and accidentally kill one cop. More cops arrive and they manage to escape with the loots. Roy Cheung is another new inspector from HQ sent to help Sun. Chow wait for Carrie at her home and got her a proposal ring. He decided to help Sun and infiltrate the robbers gang. Danny and Chow meet up on buying guns. Chow is been follow by cops under Roy instruction. Carrie want to register the marriage early but Chow want to pull back the dates. Danny bring Chow to cemetery and search him. His tape recorder is nearly expose but Chow diffuse the situation. They manage to strike the arms deal. Carrie is angry at Chow and going to Canada with a rich man. She tell him if he mean it, they will meet at the registry 10am. Chow need to do the deal around the time too. He can't shake off the cops tailing him and get help from Sun. Chow shake them off at train station. After 12pm Chow went to get the guns at bowling alley. He saw Danny there leaving. Then the cops arrives. Danny picks him up and escape. He bring Chow to meet the big boss who invite him to join their next robbery. Carrie leave with the rich man. Chow is arrested at the airport. Roy ill-treat him in the station. Sun is agitated and want to fight Roy. Their superior intervene. Roy and Sun each insist their methods to nab the robbers. Roy want Chow to continue as undercover but Sun already promise Chow he will retire after complete arms deal. The superior agrees with Roy. Danny and Chow become good pals. The boss wants them to stay in the same place, void of communications for safety sake. Carrie send Chow a letter from overseas asking him to bring her back to HK. Roy think it isn't necessary to get so many cops for this job and override Sun command. The robbers have chosen their target and will leave after the robbery. The cops are asleep just outside the store which robbers targeted. The alarm trigger and one robber kill the salesgirl. The robbers escape and all cops chase after them. Chow block a shot for Danny. Some robbers are shot dead already. Chow left clues in his wallet for Sun to read. The boss think Chow is traitor. He point gun at Chow, Danny trust him and point at the boss, another robber point at Danny. The cops reach their warehouse. One robber want to go out surrender and the boss kills him. Danny and Chow kills the boss. He tell Danny he is cop. He is arrested and Chow is dead. Sun smash a brick at Roy head.
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.

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.
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