Gritty crime drama that "inspired' Reservoir Dogs (spoilers).
Aug 22, 2009
City on Fire was a huge hit in Hong Kong and it won an award for Best Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1988. Chow Yun-Fat stars as Ko a reluctant undercover cop who has to infiltrate a gang of jewels thieves who are about to pull of the biggest heist of their lives during the holiday season. Danny Lee co-stars as Fu a thief who has a code of honor and is willing to lay down his life for a fellow comrade. During an earlier heist he murder's a cop and he wanted but nobody can identify him because his coat and sun glasses obscured his face during the robbery. Ko doesn't want to be a mole anymore because it weighs heavy on his conscience about earning people's trust and then having to betray them time and time again. His love life is also affected because he never has any time with his girlfriend who starts to stray and sleep and date other men. Unable to leave his position he slowly earns the trust of the jewel thieves ring leader and takes part in the big heist.
Ko and Fu scope out the jewel shop and prepare for the heist.they're going to rob the store during the holiday rush hour because the police will be stretched out thin. The cops are waiting to hear from Ko because they don't know what store will be hit but he can't notify the police because the gang is sequestered inside an apartment and they can't leave. Before they leave, gang is given some real nice guns by the boss and they have instructions to meet him at a designated warehouse after the gang pulls off the heist. Right before Ko, Fu and a couple of other members enter the store, Fu pulls up the collar on his coat and he looks just like the witness sketch of the cop killer. The heist doesn't go off as planned. A clerk is murdered by a trigger happy gunman when the store alarm goes off. Ko and Fu flee into the getaway car but Ko is shot in the stomach by a cop. The gang gets away but the traffic slows down their escape. After a lengthy car chase the car crashes.The driver is dead, Ko is hurt badly by the gut wound and Fu sees a cop car approaching. He pulls out two pistols and empties them killing the two cops inside. Only three of the jewel thieves make it back to the warehouse.
Back at the warehouse the boss is waiting for his gang. He has some news that own of their own is a cop. He pulls his gun on Ko and wants to kill him. Fu stands by Ko and says he's not a cop and pulls a gun on the boss. The last surviving gang member is confused and he pulls out his gun. There's a Mexican stand-off between all three guys. Outside the cops are surrounding the warehouse. They find the address from a wallet Ko dropped at the crime scenes. The stand off ends as Ko and Fu kill the boss. The last remaining gang member tries to escape with the jewels but is killed. Ko dying from his stomach wound confesses to Fu that he is a cop and dies. Fu is angered and shocked by his confession but is immediately apprehended by the police and is tossed into a paddy wagon.
Reservoir Dogs is an unofficial remake of this movie. A lot of scenes were reused, some dialog and even camera work is recycled. One scene has a long tracking shot (Ko is being chased by cops who don;t know he's a mole) that's similar to Mr. Pink's escape from the jeweler shop. The last act in the warehouse is almost a scene for scene redux. Fu's murder of the cops in the cop car is identical to the one Mr. White has when he murders the cops in their patrol car. Ko's character is Mr. Orange and Fu is Mr. White. A lot of Reservoir Dogs deleted scenes were also taken from the film as well (Mr. Orange wanting to leave the undercover job, the relationship that Ko and his superior officer and Mr. Orange and Holdaway) and several scenes that are talked about in Reservoir Dogs are shown in City on Fire (the heist is shown and what to do with someone who doesn't want to open a safe). Despite what people say Reservoir Dogs is much more than a homage to City on Fire, it's a virtual remake.
I highly recommend City on Fire. Try to find a H.K. DVD of the movie because the Miramax release is edited and a lot of the dialog is changed.