Reel Asian Film Fest: Cold Steel

Directed and written by: David Wu
Starrring: Peter Ho Yun Tung, Tony Leung kai Fai, and Song Jia

Films about snipers have always fascinated me. Their abilities seem almost super-human but they are filled with the most human of emotions as they dispose of any target and never miss unless it was on purpose. Cold Steel from director David Wu (a long time collaborator of John Woo) brings a retro action feel to this film set during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

Wu is able to run the balance of having the movie filled with violence as snipers kill enemies with ease, but at its heart the film remains a love story.

Lianfeng is a hunter, turned sniper who joins an elite team that seems to handle all kinds of missions from the more obvious assassinations to intelligence gathering. Lianfeng's (Peter Ho) skill is unparalleled and he is to be a great weapon for the Chinese people. However, his heart remains at home with the widowed owner of the local tea house and his love for her may just lead him to abandon his duty to his unit and country. On the other side of the line is the Japanese commander and fellow sniper whose skill is only matched by his ruthlessness. The Commander is also in love but his feelings are not returned: she no longer sees the man she loved in this brutal soldier who now carries out executions on the innocent in the name of his country. So, these two snipers both dealing with the conflict of serving their country and being with the women they love must meet on the field of battle.

This film delivers everything you expect from an action movie about snipers. The team can seemingly use any gun with deadly precision and always kill with the first shot even if they are running downhill and jumping over obstacles. Even with such great action the film slows down at many points to make sure you have a back- story on many of the characters to expose their human side and find the motivation for why they act as they do over the course of the story. This also goes for those on both sides of the conflict; the evil commander at first glance is just a thug but he is revealed to be deeply conflicted as the film progresses, treating the enemy as human as the hero always gives a film greater depth than using straight caricature and this is very rare to find in a war film.

Cold Steel at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival

Written by Jason Poynton

Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.

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