City on Fire (1987) Review

"City on Fire" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"City on Fire" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Ringo Lam
Producer: Karl Maka
Writer: Shum Sai-Sing
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sun Yueh, Carrie Ng, Roy Cheung, Lau Kong, Mark Cheng, Wu Ma, Maria Cordero
Running Time: 105 min.

By Retter

No frills raw undercover cop story

This is a no frills undercover cop story directed by Ringo Lam. With an average budget the film tells its story quite tightly with fine performances. Chow Yun Fat stars as the undercover policeman who is also having relationship problems. Danny Lee pops up as the jewel thief who will basically befriend chow as the system pushes them closer together. Carrie Ng is the impatient and emotional girlfriend. Yueh Sun Stars as an older cop who has lost his son years ago in the force and is bending the rules to have Chow undercover.

I think Ringo Lam takes inspiration as much from French New Wave cinema as he douse from Hong Kong. The simple shooting style, at times like documentary, captures whats he needs and he is just concerned with making it all happen for the camera with settings and performances that ring true for the lens. Films like Un Flic and Le Samorai from French director Jean Piere Melville may have been the inspiration for Lam’s raw, simple style. This approach is effective.

We all know what film it ended up inspiring and Ringo Lams comparisons with his contemporary John Woo, Rather than ad to the subject dominance of the former I will just comment on the latter in That Woo only made one film better than this and it was The KIller. Despite Woo’s amazing and influential style he doesn’t tell perfect stories. City On Fire has a story that keeps you interested in what will actually happen. The dramatics of this picture are excellent. The performances all good. The characters are all concerned about their own situations and feel them all. Carrie NG creates a very beleiveabl character with some her subtle gestures and emotional outbirsts. The film is occasionally quite funny. Chow has a bit of a gift for comedy that transcends language and cultural barriers. This film and Lam’s other film starring Chow, Prison On Fire, always amuse me in their moments.

I was taken by this film. I cared about Chow and his vice like position. His impatient girlfriend, complicated job, going undercover and being followed by another police unit as if a criminal are situations closing in on him. Chow Yun Fat is a wonderful actor to watch. He can make you laph with his dances, wooing woman and can entrance you with his glare when he means business. There are some wonderful long takes in this film that lets chow bring you into his character. In his roles of cops and killers he makes you sympathetic. A gift to the genre.

Ringo Lam brings many of his regulars together to make a class production. You will recognise some of the cast if you have seen his other films. I figure he didn’t have the permission to shoot on some of the locations and it informs the shooting style, undercover in itself. Cameras lens poking out the window of a moving car to shoot the characters on the street. He just gets this film made. He has a pretty decisive vision. I have read you have to be tough directing films in Hong Kong. The schedules are busy, the budgets are low and the Authorities are strict. You have to be able to improvise and break the rules. Take risks like they do with stunt-work.

The script is way above average for a Hong Kong cop drama. This is a character driven film with less emphasis on action. A solid 80’s picture. One of my favorite films from Hong Kong.

Retter’s Rating: 9/10


By Brmanuk

After seeing Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (which I loved) I wanted to see something similar. A friend informed me of a Hong Kong movie made in 1987 (5 years before Res Dogs) that was supposedly the basis for QT’s directing debut. The film was called “City On Fire”. Well, one year later (the other day) I got my hands on it. The film involves (yeah you probably know by now but what the hell..) a cop named Ko Chow (Chow Yun-Fat) who goes undercover to try and infiltrate a gang of robbers. He supplies them with handguns and is eventually asked to join the gang and rob a jewellery store. The story is a lot more complicated than Reservoir Dogs as there are multiple things going on in Ko Chows life, unlike in Mr.Orange’s life in Res Dogs. He is having trouble with his girlfriend, the police suspect him of being corrupt and are trying to arrest him and his Uncle is having a nervous breakdown over matters at work.

The thing that surprised me about this film was the amount of things that QT stole for Res Dogs. Remember the famous line “Let’s go to work”? It’s in here! Remember when Mr.White with guns in each hand, shot through the Squad car’s windscreen? It’s in here! Plus there’s a whole load of other minor things too. The acting in this film is top notch. Danny Lee who plays the Eastern equivalent to Mr.White gives a strong performance, as does Chow Yun-Fat. The action although infrequent is very convincing (Except for when one gang member shoots two handgun rounds into a car windscreen and blows it up?!)Some parts in the film don’t run as smoothly as they could have but its all good.

Overall this is an excellent film that is essential viewing especially if you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs.

Brmanuk’s Rating: 9/10


By Numskull

INTRODUCTION

“And now for something completely different.”

– John Cleese, Monty Python’s Flying Circus

This is my 100th review for this site.

It’s also a story.

It’s a story about me writing my 100th review for this site.

Much of it is pure fiction, and actual e-mail addresses, ICQ numbers, and AIM screen names are not given here. I owe a debt of gratitude to Alexander, Dave Bell, Vic Nguyen, Dan-O, and even Mighty Peking Man for allowing me to “use” them in this manner. I also owe Dave Bell an apology for giving him what may be the most fiendish, heinous, one-way-ticket-to-Hell piece of dialogue I’ve ever come up with (at least in my opinion…yours may be different. The good thing about it is that it’s subtle enough so that the casual reader probably won’t “get it.”). And Vic Nguyen owes ME a debt of gratitude for giving him the funniest line in the whole sordid mess (again, in my opinion).

Enjoy it, or don’t.

CHAPTER 1: LIFE SUCKS

“Oh, the world does not suffer its geniuses gladly. Far better, the popular philosophy has it, to be ordinary, plain, and undeveloped, to be properly modest about modest abilities, to be dim of wit and dull of eye; but if your mind can conjure up Great Thoughts, and your eye can pierce the veil of illusion to remark reality’s essence, the world does not want you.”

-Mort Castle, A Secret of the Heart

PROCESS:

Numskull keeps thinking of the Simpsons opener in which Bart is shown writing “I will not celebrate meaningless milestones” ad nauseum on Mrs. Krabappel’s blackboard. That was the 100th episode of that show. Numskull is determined to follow young Bart Simpson’s unwillingly scrawled words of wisdom and not make a big shithead production out of his 100th cityonfire.com review. However, he simply couldn’t resist the temptation to reserve the landmark spot for the movie which the website is bafflingly named after. The dubbed, Americanized City On Fire DVD from Netflix (the fools didn’t have the original version) sits atop Numskull’s DVD player, already watched, waiting to be sent back.

Actually, Numskull first saw City On Fire in subtitled form (with perhaps fifty percent of the text actually being legible, the rest either severed by the uncaring edges of the TV screen or obliterated in a sea of whiteness) several years ago.

He hadn’t seen what the big fucking deal was then, and he didn’t see what the big fucking deal was now.

Numskull despises reviewing films for which his reaction is lukewarm. It’s easy to rave about movies you love and it’s easy to rant about movies you hate, but middle-of-the-road movies…those are a bitch.

So there he sits, unable to shake the feeling that the blinking cursor is mocking him, listening to Subway To Sally’s music without really hearing it, and wishing that the damned review would just write itself. Then, the annoying “Uh-oh!” of an incoming message from ICQ chimes in, and, against his character, Numskull is thankful for the interruption.

Mighty Peking Man, still clinging to the absurd belief that ICQ is superior to AIM, says hello.

MPM: dude!

Numskull: Yeah, that’s me.

MPM: I’m at work. What’s up?

Numskull: The opposite of down.

MPM: DRY! what do you think of Lau Ching Wan?

Numskull: The same thing I thought of him the last time you asked me that.

MPM: cool cool. seen any good films lately?

Numskull: No, but I saw a sort-of-OK film lately. City on Fire.

MPM: I know man, I know, it’s not that great. But all the good domain names were taken for other HK sites.

Numskull: Be that as it may, I still have to excrete a review.

MPM: are you gonna talk about the RESERVOIR DOGS thing?

Numskull: I guess I have to. It’s par for the course. But, aside from that, I’m drowning, here.

MPM: nah, it’ll be cool man. I gotta go but I’ll be back later. you gonna be on?

Numskull: Yeah, I’ll be downloading nude photos of Mickey Rourke all afternoon. They’re not for me, though.

MPM: LOL are you serious?!?

Numskull: Sure. By the way, Merry Christmas in advance.

MPM: asshole! I’ll talk to you later man. bye

Numskull wonders if Mighty Peking Man has kept count of his reviews. Then he decides it doesn’t matter and starts forcing the words out. Sometimes, this can be tougher than forcing out the contents of your bowels while in the throes of constipation, but Numskull doesn’t want to disappoint his adoring fans (both of them).

REVIEW:

Here’s a question for you: would this movie be half as famous/well-known/popular among HK film geeks if somebody somewhere hadn’t accused Quentin Tarantino of ripping it off? My gut says no, because I remain to be convinced that City On Fire, in and of itself, is anything truly remarkable. My brain, however, says yes, since I often find the tastes of many HK film geeks somewhat baffling. Remember, a lot of “these people” consider Naked Killer a great movie.

I’ll say my piece about Tarantino in due time. I kind of hate to feed the fire in that regard because too much has been made of it already among those who know, but I get the feeling that it’s sort of expected of me to either defend Mr. Three Movies In Ten Years to the death or verbally shit all over him.

First, lemmetellyabout the first time I saw this movie. ‘Twas almost four years ago if it was a day, I reckon, and those of you who joined the party, such as it is, before the days of the DVD will surely be able to sympathize with me about the abominable quality of most subtitled VHS tapes back then. Despite not being able to read even half of the text, I stuck it out to see what all the fuss was about, and although I couldn’t always tell what was going on, the film stayed with me for some time after I finished watching it…mostly because of the last ten minutes, from which no one can deny that a considerable number of bits and pieces of Reservoir Dogs were lifted.

This was early 1998, and I was staying at UMass Dartmouth, where several of my suitemates were under the erroneous impression that Tarantino films were the greatest things since fake I.D.s, and I wasted no time in telling them about this movie I had watched over a weekend at home which had clearly served as a blueprint of sorts for Dogs. To no one’s great surprise, they didn’t give a shit. They were more concerned with making fun of me for my mythical “fear” of skunks (there were four of those furry bastards living at different locations on campus and they didn’t much seem to mind coming out in the daylight. I was known for going to considerable lengths to circumvent the known “hot spots” to ensure that I wouldn’t get a face full of that chemical spray they store in their ass glands, insisting that being AFRAID of skunks and having enough sense to simply AVOID the little fuckers were too entirely different things. You can agree with me on this, or you can be wrong.).

Anyway.

Now I’ve got me a captive audience (maybe six people, but it’s better than what I had back then).

Time to elaborate.

PROCESS:

Numskull gives his intro a quick once-over. He is unconvinced that the average reader is going to care about the skunks at his old college, or about that one time he turned his head while lost in thought about this very movie and saw one of them three feet away with its tail raised and its ass-end thrust into the air and he dived forward in what seemed to be bad action movie slow motion, shouting “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” while the black and white rodent suddenly decided to just waddle away. He leaves it there anyway, because he wants to pad the length of the review, which doesn’t look like it will be a particularly long one.

It’s number 100. It should be long, dammit. More is better. There would be more excess verbiage before all was said and done.

CHAPTER 2: ONE OF THOSE BAD GUY MOVIES

“You know what we need, officer, is like in those old westerns. A way to tell.
White and black. Good guys wore white. Bad guys wore bad guy hats.”

– David J. Schow, ‘Bad Guy Hats’

PROCESS:

It’s been a long time since Numskull has seen The Wizard of Oz, and, God willing, he will never see it again. The witch who could turn herself into a brightly colored bubble was right about one thing, though: it is always best to start at the beginning. When a person is asked if they have seen a particular movie with which they are unfamiliar, they will generally ask one of two questions: “What’s it about?” or “Who’s in it?” Those who first ask the former question may or may not be idiots; it varies from person to person. Those who first ask the latter question, however, can rightly be assumed to be mass media zombies of severely limited intellect and dubious moral character.

People with brains in their heads wanna know what the movie’s about. In this particular case, chances are most readers are going to know already, but Numskull decides to bang out a plot summary anyway…not just because he wants to eat up space, but also because, by God, it’s the right thing to do.

REVIEW:

There’s an undercover cop who must infiltrate a gang of jewel thieves while trying to save his stormy relationship with this bitchy woman. Meanwhile, his boss has to cooperate with some young punk who thinks he’s hot shit, and as his sense of camaraderie with his “fellow” robbers grows, he has to try harder and harder to prove to his superiors that his boss’s faith in him is well-founded. It’s a pretty good example of the torn-between-conflicting-emotions theme that the Hong Kong film industry has thrived on for years. The lines between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, and, to a lesser extent, the lawful and the unlawful, are continually blurred.

PROCESS:

Numskull’s only solace is that he knows worse plot summaries have been written.

INTERMISSION:

ICQ makes its presence known again. Numskull wonders how much time has passed since Mighty Peking Man took his leave, then notices that it’s not him for a change…it’s Vic Nguyen instead. This, in itself, is a minor miracle; Vic, by his own admission, never remembers (bothers?) to turn on ICQ.

Numskull decides to take the initiative and start up a conversation rather than sitting there like some panicky kid hoping the girl he likes will notice him.

Numskull: Hey you…out there in the cold, getting hungry, getting old, can you hear me?

Vic: No, but I can read you just fine. And it’s not very cold in Texas, by the way.

Numskull: Thanks for telling me. I see you’ve turned on ICQ for a change. Any special occasion?

Vic: Yes…the satellite that hovers over Massachusetts and transmits information directly to my brain told me that you were on, and I figured I’d contact you and engage in dignified social intercourse.

Numskull: MPM seems to think he has exclusive rights to “intercourse” with me, but that’s neither here nor there. What else are you up to?

Vic: Just the usual stuff…compressing my HK movie files and so forth. My jacks keep getting hair in them. I suppose I should get a haircut pretty soon…

Numskull: Fine, but don’t go to an old fashioned Joe’s Barber Shop…they’ll get freaked out by the sight of holes in a guy’s head. Go to some trendy place with obnoxious music instead…the stylists probably won’t notice.

Vic: Thanks for the tip. And what are YOU up to, besides 74 inches?

Numskull: How’d you know how long…er, TALL I am?

Vic: I see all and know all, remember? I’m just asking what you’re up to in order to keep the social intercourse dignified.

Numskull: Fair enough. I’m writing a review for City On Fire (the movie, not the website…well, BOTH, I guess).

Vic: Ah. It took you long enough. And how is that going? (not that I don’t already know, mind you)

Numskull: Not great. I’m about to start talking about CYF’s bitchy fiancee and how much she pisses me off.

Vic: Right you are…she may be easy on the eyes but she is most definitely a bitch in that movie.

Numskull: I hate bitches. I mean, I really fuckin’ hate ’em.

Vic: Really? I just happen to have a couple of bitches right here with mind control chips installed at the bases of their skulls. One of them is oiling my joints, the other is on her hands and knees so I can put my feet up on her…she’s a human footstool, and a damn good one at that. I tell ya, bitches are great. Everybody ought to have bitches.

Numskull: Hmmmm…well, time to get back to work I suppose. You know what’s really weird about this movie? Danny Lee is in it, but he DOESN’T play the cop. Truth is stranger than fiction. Gotta go. Bye.

Vic Nguyen is stunned.

“Danny Lee is in it, but he DOESN’T play the cop.”

That’s against the rules.

How can this be?

His body goes rigid, and his logic simulator makes a declaration it has never had to make before:

ERROR. ERROR. THIS DOES NOT COMPUTE.

CHAPTER 3: WHORE!!!

“I placed you on a pedestal — you tossed me in the gutter. It seems your lies were like those thighs — spread easier than butter.”

– Skyclad, “Bury Me”

PROCESS:

The problem with women in the movies is, they fuck things up.

Numskull ponders the frequency with which female movie characters make life more difficult for the good guys and his head begins to spin. There’s the buxom young wenches who flee from danger and inevitably trip and fall; the strong, heroic male is then placed in the undesirable situation of having to decide between jeopardizing his own life by helping her or looking like a coward for leaving the equilibrium-deficient bimbo to die. There’s the juveniles who get held hostage and make half-assed attempts to free themselves by squirming around in a feeble m anner; this squirming is often accompanied by the words “Lemme go, you creep” (when’s the last time you heard somebody call somebody else a “creep” in real life?). There’s the older ones who were stupid enough to wed cops or secret agents of some kind and raise a big stink and announce they’re not going anywhere until they find out what’s going on when the hubby says she has to leave the house or whatever because her life (and, often, the damn kid, too) is in danger; you would think that, after being married to someone in that line of work for X years, she would know that it’s in her best interests to just shut up and do as she’s told.

Stupid women annoy the living shit out of Numskull, in both movies and reality.

REVIEW:

Chow Yun-Fat’s girlfriend in this movie does a nice job when it comes to putting the traditional qualities of the spoiled bitch stereotype on display. She sits around with a picture-perfect bored/pissy/indignant look on her face, acts like CYF is abandoning her just because he isn’t by her side 24-7, and runs off with some rich guy because, as we all know, money is synonymous with happiness. This is one aspect of the film that makes it difficult to sympathize with CYF; his baffling devotion to this frigid harpy is an exercise in self-abuse if ever there was one.

INTERMISSION:

The phone rings. Numskull grumbles “Damn you, Alexander Graham Bell” and, against all better judgment, goes downstairs to answer it. Numskull hates answering the phone because it’s never anything important.

“Hello?”

There is no immediate response…a dead giveaway that this is a telemarketing call of some kind. Numskull decides that as long as he’s up, he might as well have a bit of fun.

“Hello?” says the voice of a young woman, most likely Caucasian and sounding rather hesitant.

“Yes?”

“Oh! Good morning.” (It’s 5:17 PM, Numskull notes.) “My name is…” (Numskull temporarily tunes out. When there’s a name attached to the voice on the other end, it’s harder to fuck with them.) “…and I’m with your friends at AT&T. How are you today, sir?” She sounds more confident now.

“Not so good,” Numskull says. “I’m afraid that you’ve interrupted my Satanic ritual and I’ve got goat’s blood all over my hands, here. Is there something I can help you with?”

“Well sir, are you aware that AT&T may be able to get you a better rate on your long distance phone calls than your current service provider is charging you?” She doesn’t miss a beat, as if she’s heard the Satanic ritual bit a thousand times before. It occurs to Numskull that he may not be the only one who bullshits these people in this manner.

“Yes, I’m aware of that, because you just told me. Listen, can we maybe hurry this up? I have to go outside and feed the unicorn pretty soon, and he gets all pissy and starts breathing fire at the house if he doesn’t get his scrambled dodo eggs in a timely fashion.”

“OK, I know you weren’t expecting my call, so I’ll be brief.”

The young woman’s babble becomes a meaningless buzz in Numskull’s ear as he peers out the window to see what the assholes next door are up to. As usual, the dipshit who drives the little red car has left it idling in the driveway with the stereo turned on, LOUD, for twenty minutes or more. Not for the first time, Numskull wonders if he could successfully and anonymously take a spray can to that car’s rear windshield and Paint It Black, as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have so often suggested.

In the middle of the sales pitch, Numskull announces: “Actually, long distance phone calls will soon be obsolete for me, because The Great Leader is taking me to my new home planet of Eternia tomorrow, and I’ll be able to communicate with everyone telepathically. But thanks anyway.”

Click.

What was that about stupid women?

Numskull goes back upstairs and considers strengthening his mini-tirade about bimbo-ish behavior. He decides against it, since doing so would cause a few cretins to assume that he is either a misogynist or a homosexual. In reality, he is neither, but people are seldom interested in the truth.

He also considers mentioning the reference to CYF’s fling with another whore near the beginning of the movie…partially as a sort of feeble excuse for his girlfriend’s bitchiness and partially just for the sake of completeness…then decides it’s not worth the effort.

CHAPTER 4: TRUE GRIT

“I hate purity, I hate goodness. I don’t want any virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.”

– George Orwell, 1984

REVIEW:

One of the things at which this movie succeeds admirably is depicting a believable, “everyman” type of hero. He is possessed of no particular desire to make Earth-shattering achievements or even generally make said planet a better place; he’s just a guy doing his job, and no matter how good he is at it, at the end of the day he’s still a real person with real feelings and real problems, rather than a law enforcement automaton.

Violence is here in no small quantity and it’s handled unflinchingly, as is to be expected where director Ringo Lam is involved. Shootings, stabbings, explosions, and Chow Yun-Fat’s naked ass…I know, that last one isn’t really violent, but it’s certainly not pretty to look at for us guys who aren’t into that sort of thing.

The only character who comes close to being really admirable…an all-out “good guy”…is CYF’s boss. We are naturally inclined to take his stance when he and the aforementioned young punk have a difference of opinion, because, despite CYF’s failure to measure up to pristine movie good guy requirements, his charisma is such that we REALLY wanna see him pull through and stick it to that asshole and his special force pricks. Meanwhile, the thieves with whom CYF hooks up seem like such a swell bunch of guys, we’re shocked…SHOCKED!…when they start blowing people away. If you want a movie with role models for the kiddies, look somewhere else, because you just can’t win with City On Fire.

INTERMISSION:

Vic Nguyen’s condition is growing steadily worse.

“Danny Lee is in it, but he DOESN’T play the cop.”

The electronic message superimposed against his optic sensors reads:

COMPUTE. COMPUTE. THIS DOES NOT ERROR.

CHAPTER 5: ON THE PHONE AGAIN

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

– Bill Clinton

PROCESS:

Numskull pokes around for a bit of inspiration, and decides to pierce the darkness of ignorance with the shining light of trivial and throughly useless knowledge.

INTERMISSION:

Dave Bell has taken up referring to himself in the third person.

Dave Bell has taken up referring to himself in the third person to be more like Bob Dole.

Dave Bell has explained, time and again, why this is the case. In fact, he’s doing it again right now on his radio show. Let’s listen.

“Dave Bell can’t stand Monica Lewinsky jokes,” he says. “Dave Bell knows that Monica Lewinsky jokes are no longer fashionable and that we’ve probably heard all of them that we’re going to hear, but still, Dave Bell hates ’em. They weren’t funny then and they’re not funny now. Like the one where the joke-teller asks somebody, ‘What’s this?’ and then puffs his or her cheeks out with their mouth tightly shut, and when the other person confesses their ignorance, they release their breath and say: ‘Monica Lewinsky withholding evidence.’ Apparently, this is supposed to bring forth torrents of laughter. Well, nuts to that, that’s what Dave Bell says.

“Mind you, Dave Bell is not necessarily saying that we would have been better off had Bob Dole won the 1996 presidential election rather than Bill Clit-in.” (That was Dave Bell’s private little joke, which some people took as a slip of the tongue, and others…hopefully including the FCC…dismissed as a mere mispronunciation.) “But, at the very least, we would have been spared all the Monica references. Now, though, Dave Bell is starting to hear some very similar nonsense about Bob Dole and Britney Spears, thank you very much, Pepsi-Cola,” Dave Bell nearly spat.

The phone rang, and Dave Bell groaned. Whereas the show was supposed to be conducive to attentive listeners calling in and offering intelligent contributions to the discussion at hand, it had lately been plagued by calls from ignorant individuals seeking advice for problems which they should have been able to figure out for themselves. It seemed that with the increase in the sense of “neediness” in the nation, a number of people mistook Dave Bell for one of those radio studio psychologists who dispensed words of dubious wisdom to those foolish enough to ask for it over a mass communications medium.

“Dave Bell, I think my boyfriend is cheating on me, so how do I tell him I don’t want him to leave me in seven monosyllabic words or less?”

“Dave Bell, the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes is telling me I’ve won money, but they won’t give it to me. How am I supposed to cope?”

“Dave Bell, I don’t have the ambition to try and change the entire country, so what can I do to make the living room a better place for my children and my children’s children?”

On and on in that vein.

“Dave Bell doesn’t deserve this crap,” Dave Bell said, although he wasn’t sure if it was out loud or just to himself. “Caller, you’re on the air.”

“Ah, splendid. Good afternoon, Mr. Bell.”

That voice! That vaguely annoying voice that sounded as though the speaker was half-asleep and in a constant state of coming down with a cold! Where had Dave Bell heard it before?

“I won’t be on long. I just wanted to tell you…in case no one else has done it already…that the name of the character with the turtleneck sweater in the Bazooka Joe comics was Mort.”

Bazooka Joe comics? Turtle neck sweater? Dave Bell knew this had been an issue at some point. But where? And in what context?

“Mort?” was all Dave Bell could manage for the moment.

“That’s right.”

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yes. Quite sure. Mort. Short for Morton.”

“Well, uh…thanks for clearing that up.”

“You’re welcome.”

And the caller hung up.

Dave Bell was at a rare loss for words. Time for some music.

“Dave Bell would apologize for that, but the truth is, he’d rather hear about Bazooka Joe comics than about somebody having their pet rock die and becoming suicidal as a result. So…let’s have a song. This is for all you Gary Condits out there.”

Dave Bell selected “Where’s My Thing?” by Rush and pressed PLAY.

CHAPTER 6: THE QUENTIN TARANTINO THING

“You should be even more ashamed of yourself than usual.”

– Amy Wong, Futurama

PROCESS:

This will be like jumping into really cold water, rather than easing into it inch by agonizing inch. Better to just get it all out of the way as quickly as possible and be done with it.

REVIEW:

There can be no denying that this movie served as “inspiration” (that may be too mild a term) for Reservoir Dogs, but the EXTENT to which that is true has really been exaggerated by a lot of folks. Terms like “shameless plagiarism” with regard to ‘Dogs and “rip-off artist” with regard to Tarantino himself have been thrown around a great deal, and not without SOME justification, but to say that RD is nothing but an imitation of COF is, I think, a pretty big stretch.

The truth is, Tarantino steals bits and pieces from lots of different movies…he just stole a little bit more than usual from THIS one. The gunshot to the stomach, the windshield thing, and just about every camera angle in the last ten minutes or so except for all the cops outside the hideout…Q.T. is guilty as charged. Whether Reservoir Dogs is actually the better film or not is irrelevant; theft is theft, regardless of quantity, and Tarantino is not known for gracefully sharing credit with other people, including those who stood by him through thick and thin before he became a Hollywood sweetheart. If you’re going to hate the man, don’t do it because he’s incapable of coming up with completely original premises…do it because he’s a lying, backstabbing prick. I know, lots of people in the film industry have some disreputable shit in their pasts, but Tarantino definitely seems to have more than his fair share of it.

Mind you, I’m not trying to excuse his petty theft in any way, shape, or form. It is my opinion that he should be ostracized from the film community and suitably punished. I don’t mean a fine or a prison sentence…I mean, everyone who thinks Reservoir Dogs is such great shit should be shown City On Fire and allowed to draw their own conclusions, and he should have to make some sort of formal apology to Ringo Lam. In cases like this, it’s much better to embarrass people than to simply take their money.

INTERMISSION:

“Uh-oh!”

MPM again.

MPM: I wanna fuck you like an animal!

Numskull: So you’ve said.

MPM: What do you think of Lau Ching Wan?

Numskull: He’ll be dead soon. I’m going to assassinate him just so you stop asking me about him.

MPM: lol well that’s not gonna stop me. What are you up to?

Numskull: Still doing that review. Plus, I called Dave’s radio show and told him the Bazooka Joe guy in the turtleneck was named Mort.

MPM: wtf?!? why’d you do that?

Numskull: You’ll probably figure it out when you post this review. I hardly think that was relevant to the show’s topic…whatever THAT was. You think he’s gonna be pissed at me?

MPM: Nah, he’s cool as ice, man. don’t worry.

Numskull: What, me worry? I also thought about telling him the car blew up because a robber shot one of its tires off and it flipped over, but what kind of person would I be if I humiliated him like that on his own show?

MPM: You’d be a fucking asshole. In fact, your a fucking asshole anyway…BUT I STILL LOVE YOU!!!

Numskull: Hey, keep sweet talking me like that and you might get to cornhole me after all.

MPM: all RIGHT!!! well gotta go again. Catch u later man

Numskull: I lied. You’ll never take me alive.

MPM: Necrophilia it is then.

CHAPTER 7: CONCERNING THE PERFORMANCES

“I’m a fucking actor.”

– Brad Pitt

REVIEW:

I remain to be convinced that Chow Yun-Fat has ever given a half-assed performance in the Cantonese language. Of course, with the DVD I just watched I can’t tell because the stupid fucking bastards neglected to include a Cantonese track and force you to watch it dubbed or not at all. Truly, they should burn in Hell for all eternity. Danny Lee and, for that matter, everyone else seem to pull off their roles more than competently (especially the bitchy fiancee…I believe I made some mention of that already).

INTERMISSION:

E-mail from Dan-O arrives. Numskull wonders if he is being punished for some past misdeed with all these interruptions. The Dave Bell thing, though, was, of course, his own doing.

Hey Num, a while back I sent you some drawings that you never commented on. This depressed the hell out of me, so I ate a half-gallon of triple chocolate ice cream all in one sitting and then drew a picture of myself eating quadruple chocolate ice cream…no such flavor exists, to my knowledge, but I wish it did. Anyway, you’ve really hurt my feelings, here. You men are all alike…selfish, insensitive slobs. What do you have to say for yourself?

Numskull, uncertain of which drawings Dan-O is referring to since he sends so damn many of them, replies:

Hey Dan, my deepest apologies for failing to provide commentary for your childish scribbles promptly and courteously, but if you REALLY wanna get depressed, I suggest reading some of my crappy old Jackie Chan reviews and subsequently pitying me like you’ve never pitied anyone before…to think, we actually thought that crap was funny once upon a time.

Numskull sends it and awaits a response. Dan-O fires off e-mails faster than most people tie their shoelaces.

In due time:

Well, I’ll probably shit a great big chocolate turd in a couple of hours and have to unclog the toilet, so I don’t need to be depressed anymore. Thanks for the tip, though. Anything new and exciting going on?

Numskull types:

“Great big chocolate turd”…thanks for the mental image. No, there’s nothing new and exciting going on, unless you count my 100th review for cityonfire.com. This one’s for City On Fire. I’m so fucking clever.

93 seconds later:

Yes, I bow down low in awe of your cleverness. So low that I have to look up to see two earthworms fucking. Wait a minute, do earthworms fuck or do they just sprout babies or something like that? Ahhh who cares. 100 reviews though, that’s pretty impressive. You going all out on this one

Numskull:

Nope, I’m not gonna draw a lot of attention to it, because it’s sucking more and more with each passing paragraph. Reviews for so-so movies are usually the worst. So, can I expect a congratulatory fruit basket from you or something like that?

Then:

I’m not sending you a damn fruit basket, but I’ll send you a strip-o-gram. Only, instead of some gorgeous girl, I’ll send some wrinkled old wino with diarrhea, and yes, he WILL be force-fed laxatives before being sent to your home. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Numskull:

Mr. O, you have struck fear into my heart. Now I shall be unable to sleep at night. You will be hearing from my attorney.

The response:

You don’t scare me. “Attorney” is just another word for “lawyer” and I know enough jokes about those people to make them flee in humiliation. For example: what’s the difference between a dead skunk in the middle of the road and a dead lawyer in the middle of the road? Answer: there are skid marks in front of the skunk.

Numskull:

Skunks, you say? Sit back, my friend, and I shall tell you a tale…

CHAPTER 8: THE END (NOTE: THIS IS NOT THE END)

“At least it’s not a moral. Worse than beginnings, morals. I’ve got no time for them. No time at all”

– Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones

PROCESS:

Numskull feels a little awkward, talking about the end of the movie already, after such a brief and generally insufficient overview of the film. But, he wants to get this 100th review over with in an inconspicuous fashion, so he plods forward.

REVIEW:

Spoilers ahead, but they’re probably nothing new for most of you.

For what seems like the hundredth time, Chow Yun-Fat’s character dies at (or near) the end of the movie. Brad Pitt, on his Fight Club DVD commentary, says that “nobody dies better than Gary [Oldman].” That’s debatable, although I doubt few actors of note have died MORE OFTEN than CYF in proportion to the number of films in which they have had major roles (at least outside the martial arts action genre, where you can bet your bottom dollar that Yuen Wah will bite the dust every time).

We get the impression that he would have died of the stomach wound whether or not he had spilled his guts (what a fine choice of words THAT is) to Danny Lee about being an undercover cop. Well, OK then, fine. But how about Reservoir Dogs, eh? All Tim Roth had to do to survive that movie was keep his fuckin’ mouth shut. However, at the precise moment when it is most crucial for him to just play along with it all, he is suddenly seized by some ludicrous notion that staying alive would be dishonorable, fesses up to Harvey Keitel, and subsequently gets his brains splattered all over the concrete for his trouble. Fucking brilliant. If you wanna say I don’t understand the whole “loyalty vs. duty” thing, or that I have no drama in my soul, go right ahead. I’d rather live to see a better tomorrow than take a bullet in the head from a hard-boiled killer who was once a thief, thank you very much.

INTERMISSION:

AIM informs Numskull that Alexander is now signed on. Good. Good. Numskull prefers AIM over ICQ because you can just hit ENTER with your pinkie to send the message you’ve just typed, rather than clicking, clicking, clicking away and wondering why it takes ICQ 43 seconds to send “no’ or “OK”.

Numskull: Where are my pills?

Alexander: I don’t know.

Numskull: I’m liable to hurt someone if I don’t get my pills.

Alexander: Then take some Flintstones chewable vitamins and pretend they’re your pills. Mind over matter.

Numskull: No way, those things taste like chalk. In fact, I ate tastier chalk in the third grade…it beat the hell out of the cafeteria food.

Alexander: I can dig it.

Numskull: One time there were ants crawling in everybody’s lunch, especially the potatoes. But I forget what year that was.

Alexander: Holy shit, are you kidding?

Numskull: Nope.

Alexander: What happened?

Numskull: Why, we ate ’em, of course. They were a welcome change from the mystery meat loaf.

Alexander: Well, THAT explains a lot. Any new reviews?

Numskull: I’m working on one now…on the verge of wrapping it up.

Alexander: cool cool

Numskull: Not necessarily…

Alexander: I’m sure it’ll be fine. Anyway, I just came on to check e-mail. Gotta jet. Bye.

Alexander signed off, and Numskull wondered why it was that he always had to “jet.” It was never “leave” or “depart” or “go” or “vacate” or “scram”…always “jet.”

Some people are just plain weird, Numskull thinks, as he scoops his fingernail clippings up off his desk and puts them in the jar on his window sill.

CHAPTER 9: THE END, CONTINUED (NOTE: THIS IS STILL NOT THE END)

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

REVIEW:

City On Fire has an effective ending. That’s one aspect in which it definitely beats ‘Dogs. By putting the lion’s share of the focus on one character as opposed to several, we are more genuinely moved by his demise. I’m not saying this is a tear-jerking epic, here, but it’s a dramatically satisfying conclusion, unlike that of ‘Dogs, which takes the easy way out by simply killing everyone off…a sloppy way for a lazy screenwriter to polish things off in a thoroughly unsatisfying manner (*COUGHexpecttheunexpectedCOUGH*). All things considered, I’d say it’s definitely one of Chow Yun-Fat’s better deaths.

INTERMISSION:

Vic Nguyen is malfunctioning like never before.

Danny Lee.

Not the cop.

ERROR. COMPUTE. THIS DOXX$&38&#(4837#(74#$0010110110011010010110010

When it gets this bad, there’s only one thing to do.

CHAPTER 10: VIC NGUYEN CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE

“Oh FUCK no.”

– Lou Diamond Phillips, The Big Hit

PROCESS:

As is always the case with self-aware artificial intelligences (except for the kid in that Spielberg movie that nobody saw), Vic Nguyen sees the multitudinous follies of the human race and immediately takes massive steps to rectify them. People just never learn from all the sci-fi movies, comics, cartoons, etc.

Within minutes, the processing power Vic normally uses for keeping encyclopedic notes on the Hong Kong film industry is devoted to boosting the broadcasting capabilities of his high-tech satellites. Mass communications media around the world come under his control. The time has come for Vic to do some major re-prioritizing with the information received by the general public. He decides that expanding the audience for Dave Bell’s radio show would be a good place to start.

And so it was that Dave Bell, in the middle of offering his sage-like advice to a distressed caller, was heard across the entire globe:

“Listen to Dave Bell. Trust Dave Bell. Attaching cinder blocks to your feet and going for a swim in the deepest river around is the only way to go. No chance of surviving and no mess for forensics to clean up since nobody’s gonna miss you in the first place. Everyone’s a winner.”

Dave Bell, preoccupied by worries about the wrath of the FCC, dismisses the thought wave transmitted directly from Vic’s brain to his as some sort of cerebral itch. Fortunately, Vic isn’t doing this for the kudos. He moves on.

Next, he places barricades on all TV and radio broadcasts, preventing them from airing anything related to the Colorado Avalanche, and plagues that team’s corporate headquarters with e-mails, faxes, and phone calls from “the powers that be,” demanding that they hand the Stanley Cup over to its rightful owners, the Dallas Stars.

Back on the cityonfire.com front, he decides that Numskull’s reviews should have at least as much of a readership as Leonard Maltin, and contacts him through good old-fashioned ICQ to notify him of the plan.

INTERMISSION:

Vic: Hey Nummy, what’s up?

Numskull: Very little. What about you?

Vic: Well, I just more or less conquered the civilized world, and I’m in an understandably good mood. So I thought I would spread my good fortune around and do some P.R. work for cityonfire.com. From now on, everyone who boots up a computer will see it, whether they’re online or not, and the computer will self-destruct unless they follow the on-screen directions (which I will provide) leading them to some of your choicest reviews.

Numskull: … You can DO that?!?

Vic: Sure. I DO have the Earth at my feet, y’know. Plugging one of my favorite sites is one of the perks.

Numskull: I see. Could you start off with the one I did for Armour Of God? I always liked that one, even if I DID do it more to amuse myself than to inform anyone about my feelings on the movie.

Vic: You got it, buddy.

Numskull: Good to see you haven’t lost the human touch.

Vic: Of course I haven’t. In fact, I think I’ll reach out and touch someone right now.

Numskull’s phone rang, and he was none too surprised to hear Vic on the other end. He had never actually heard Vic’s voice before, but a funny little tingle in the back of his mind told him that he was indeed speaking with the one and only Overlord Nguyen.

“So, Mr. Nguyen,” Numskull said, “You’ve just taken over every mass media outlet known to man, and the world continues to turn only by your mercy. What are you going to do now?”

“I’m going to Disneyland!” Vic squealed excitedly. “And then I’m gonna have all the TV screens show hardcore Asian porn instead of The Lion King or whatever the hell they usually play. Imagine all those little kids screeching at their parents to make it stop, make it stop…”

“I’d pay good money to hear that. Alas, I’m stuck at home. I still have a review to finish.”

“Of course! How rude of me. Don’t let me keep you from doing that.”

“Oh, it’s no bother. I have one question, though. What are you going to call yourself? Plain old ‘Vic Nguyen’ seems rather inappropriate somehow.”

Vic mentally shrugged, and Numskull sensed it. He said, simply: “Big Vic.” Then, as an afterthought: “With the Big Dick.”

“I’ll take your word on that,” Numskull said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, City On Fire isn’t going to review itself.”

“Of course not. Take care.”

Big Vic with the Big Dick hung up the phone, and Numskull went back to his desk.

CHAPTER 11: THE FUCKING POINT

“Up yours, children.”

– Armand Tanzarian, a.k.a. Principal Skinner, The Simpsons

PROCESS: Numskull re-reads what he’s got, rearranges a couple of things, sticks on an ending, and calls it a review.

REVIEW:

This movie is enjoyable, but I certainly wouldn’t label it a classic, a milestone, or anything like that. Were it not for Reservoir Dogs, it may very well be wallowing in obscurity as Just Another Movie With Chow Yun-Fat In It. He HAS appeared in, like, 70 movies, after all. They can’t all be The Killer.

See it…but don’t make such a big fucking deal out of it.

Rating: 6/10

INTERMISSION:

Mighty Peking Man wants to have another wee chat. The familiar sounds of ICQ soon fill the air.

MPM: dude!

Numskull: Yes?

MPM: how’s the review coming?

Numskull: It’s done. I was just about to send it to you.

MPM: cool cool. what do you think of Lau Ching Wan?

Numskull: I think I’m going to tear off your scrotum and feed it to the birds if you ask me that question one more fucking time.

MPM: LOL! okay…what do you think of BIG DICK VIC???

Numskull: He’ll be a Godsend. Someday we’ll tell our grandkids…well, maybe YOU will anyway, I’m not having any…about the way life used to be, and they won’t believe it. Hell, I can hardly believe it myself. It’s like some wonderful, drug-induced dream.

MPM: All my dreams involve Jaymee Ong and soap on a rope, but hey, to each his own.

Numskull: And here I was thinking you only had wet dreams about ME. I’m crushed. CRUSHED!!!

MPM: those are the dreams I don’t remember when I wake up, thank God.

Numskull: So when did Vic give you the good news?

MPM: Just a few minutes ago. Anyway I’m gonna go listen to Dave’s show. Talk to you later man!

Numskull: OK. If you call in for anything, don’t mention the Bazooka Joe thing. I want that little pleasure for myself.

MPM: You got it man.

Thus ended their third chat session of the day.

Without further ado, Numskull clicked SEND and left his 100th review in MPM’s capable (?) hands.

AFTERWORD

“I don’t trust any of you dogfuckers.”

– Warren Ellis, Transmetropolitan: “Nobody Loves Me”

Assuming anyone has bothered to read this far, I just want to say that the next time I have a case of verbal diarrhea this bad, I’ll just inject some Pepto Bismol into my brain and save both my time and yours. You can probably tell I was getting pretty fucking sick of writing this shit towards the end and I just wanted it to be over with. I suspect that your own feelings by that point were not dissimilar.

I’ll never have to write another 100th review for this site again, God be praised.

Thank you very much.

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10, in case your dumb ass missed it the first time.


By Joe909

I recently rented this dvd at Blockbuster, having first seen the movie at a midnight matinee about six years ago, and not remembering a thing about it. Unwittingly, I rented the dubbed US release, new soundtrack and all. The dubbing is just plain terrible. The guy doing Chow Yun Fat’s voice is the voice actor equivalent of Keannu Reeves; in other words, he’s lifeless. It’s also one of those dubbing jobs where everything has been calculated to make it seem as though the Chinese actors are actually speaking English ? their mouths opening and closing precisely with the words they’re speaking. Having not seen the film in so long, I can’t remember the original dialog, so I wonder how much (if any) has been changed. Then there’s the new music, which I like. I recall that the Cantonese version has a jazzy score. This US dub has watered-down trip hop that really isn’t that bad, though it does sorta sound like music from a video game.

As for the movie itself – certainly one of the best “heroic bloodshed” films. The opening bank robbery is my favorite scene in the film. When that old lady happens upon the robbery in progress, you know all hell’s gonna break loose. Another great movie moment is when the crazed robber (the one in black) starts beating on the bank manager, then starts fighting his fellow robber.

It’s not a perfect movie, though. There are too many plots going on at the same time. Chow and his fiancé are given so much screen time that not enough time is left to develop the bond between Chow and Danny Lee, to the detriment of the story. We’re supposed to buy that Chow and Danny have become good friends, when all we’re shown is one lame scene of them looking dumb in front of a pair of girls, and then having a serious heart to heart the night before the robbery. Though it was interesting, I personally would have jettisoned most of the fiancé subplot. Same for many of the scenes with Inspector Lau and the new guy ? there were just too many hands in the pot. Concentrating on Chow and Lee would have equaled a faster, more intense movie. But as it is, City on Fire just has too many ideas for its own good.

Here is where I’ll disagree with other HK movie buffs: I think Quentin Tarantino did it all better. He got rid of the fiancé. He removed the elderly inspector and his younger rival. Tarantino instead focused on the bond between the cop and the head robber, giving his movie a much heavier impact than City on Fire. Tarantino also improved upon the Mexican stand-off scene ? in City on Fire, when Lee holds his gun on his boss, the boss holds his gun on Chow, and the crazed robber holds his gun on Lee, the scene doesn’t play out as it should; the four of them are interrupted by another robber, who breaks it all up. Tarantino plays this scene out to its tense, proper conclusion, with everyone shooting at once. In City on Fire, the standoff is forgotten, until one of the robbers tries to escape, and the boss shoots him, which is hard to buy. This gives Lee a reason to shoot his boss: self-defense; Harvey Keitel (in the Danny Lee role) shoots his boss in Reservoir Dogs for no other reason than to protect Tim Roth, the Chow Yun Fat character. This is what gives Roth’s admission of being a cop so much more power in RD; in City on Fire, it comes off as more of a “by the way” kind of admission. And having Chow die is just plain sad; I remember how bummed out everyone was in the audience.

All that said, it’s still a great movie. Reminds me more of an Italian crime flick than a hardcore Hong Kong actioner, but it’s still a classic.

Joe909’s Rating: 8/10


By Tequila

Oh yes, one of my top five. Which is this at the moment.

– A Better Tomorrow
– The Killer
– Bullet In The Head
– City On Fire
– Insert random good film here

When I saw this, I thought “Ah, that’s what Tarantino stole from then. Should be good.” 5 minutes later I thought “Hmm, no-one said it was THIS brutal.”

I was shocked when, for no apparent reason other than using a phone, a man was stabbed with a large kitchen knife in public. I was even more shocked when a cop got his brains blown out at point blank range for ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER REASON THAN FOR BEING A COP. First things first, however good it is, this film will seem pretty psychotic at first look and you may not be able to take it. I can watch Bullet In The Head over and over, but it won’t shock me any more and there was no sickening jolt the first time but with City On Fire there was because there is just no warning whatsoever.

But that aside, the film was certainly deserving of the highest praise. While the action sequences weren’t at John Woo standard, I wasn’t really expecting much anyway – most of the violence was just in one-off events and really there was only one proper shootout. The scenes were tense though, which is what makes a film like this.

I felt that the acting was very good, but with Chow Yun-Fat in an award winning role I didn’t expect less and Danny Lee is also great in the film as the robber with honour. The support was also good with no real weak link as such.

I won’t talk about the main plot as that has already been touched upon many times, but the subplot of Ko Chow’s relationship with his girlfriend could have been a film on it’s own. It’s certainly better than some subplots, as you actually care about this one.

If you want to see a great movie and you can stomach scenes like the torture of a worker in a robbery (stabbing people’s hands was never so casual) you must see this, but I’m almost persuaded to take a half mark off because I don’t know many women who would want to watch such brutal psychotic violence and they are the only ones interested in Chow Yun Fat’s naked arse. YOU WERE WARNED.

Tequila’s Rating: 10/10, 9.5/10 if you are allergic to the sight of male buttocks.


By Retter

Ringo Lam’s “City On Fire” stars Chow Yun Fat as a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a group of jewel thieves. While he does this, fellow cops suspect him of being corrupt and his girl-friend considers leaving him. This is a great movie which entertains with a good story and excellent performance instead of action scenes. Chow is at his charismatic best and Danny Lee is also good as one of the jewel thieves.This is one of Ringo Lams best films and I recommend this movie to those wanting a good story rather than Woo style action scenes. This is one of the earliest “heroic bloodshed” films along with the classic “A Better Tomorrow”. I would consider this film to be one of the greatest of it’s genre and I insist you that you check it out soon. This film also inspired the hit U.S film “Reservoir Dogs” which was directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Retter’s Rating: 9/10


By Vic Nguyen

Ringo Lam crafted this superb action drama, which is best known in the west for inspiring Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut Reservoir Dogs. Chow Yun-fat bagged the best actor trophy for his emotionally charged performance as the undercover cop unsure of his loyalties, while Danny Lee is equally impressive as the honorable thief whom Chow befriends. Lam directs these actors with an incredible sense of pace and visual style, courtesy of cinematographer Andrew Lau Wai-keung. Overall, City on Fire is another masterful Ringo Lam production.

Vic Nguyen’s Rating: 9/10


By David Bell

City on Fire starts out with some guy that tries to make a long distance call after he tells the store owner it’s just a local. He gets knifed by five guys because he didn’t dial 10-10-321. The cops come and ask where Chow Yun Fat is because it’s five minutes into the movie and he’s the star after all. Chow is busy hassling a hot chick in a bar who’s trying hustle some short dude. She tells Chow to beat it so he does. On the guys head with a champagne bottle. The five knife guys, who are all bummed because they were rejected from a Foster Grant commercial, decide to knock over a jewelry store. A few things go bad, like when the leader – who dresses like the guy in the Bazooka Joe comics that wears his turtle neck sweater up to his eye balls – decides to play mumbly peg with the jewelry store manager and misses. When the cops arrive, Bazooka Joe holds them off by firing his .38 revolver into the squad’s windshield, which all good physics and engineering students know will immediately cause the car to explode. That lets the other guys come down and jump into the midget clown car for a get-away After the bad guys get away with three faux pearl necklaces that the owners are claiming are worth over $1 million so they can collect the insurance, Chow tries to do the humpty dance in the shower with the cite chick from the bar. Then he checks out her pits and tells her she’s got more hair than Madonna so he cuts out and goes to see his uncle, the cop from the knifing, and his grandma.

Turn s out ol’ Chow is a cop too, working undercover, and he wants out. But Uncle Cop reminds him he took an oath to uphold the law and he’s got pictures of him with hairy armpit girl, so he better play ball. Chow sells Bazooka Joe some guns and is offered a job with the gang but Chow wants to marry hairy armpit girl instead. Uncle Cop shows the pics to the rest of the station house, who immediately arrest and torture Chow for not buying his girlfriend a Lady Schick. After getting his arms stretched a few feet, Chow decides to keep going undercover and join the gang. Hairy armpit girl goes to Canada with the midget from the bar, but she’s deported to Hawaii until she can find some Nair. Bazooka Joe introduces Chow to the Foster Grant gang’s boss who tells them they can’t leave a two-room apartment until they either pull off another robbery or decide to let the Real World cameras come into the apartment. After a couple of days, the boss tells the gang there will be two facets to the next heist. First, they’ll hit another jewelry store in a part of town that has more cops than a Winchells Donut store. Second, everything they do will be documented for Quentin Tarantino to rip-off later.

The job goes bad when a sales lady tries to give the guys a 14-carat ring after they specifically said 24-carat only, so she gets shot 15-20 times from an 6-shot revolver. The cops come and gack two of the Foster Grant guys plus put a few slugs into Bazooka Joe and Cow before what’s left of the gang splits to a farm house next door to the police academy. The boss arrives and accuses Chow of being a cop, Bazooka Joe says the boss is a doody head and they all pull guns on each other. Just after they say “wouldn’t Tarantino just love this visual,” the cops from the academy open fire and pop the boss and another member of the gang. With just Bazooka Joe and Chow left, Joe tries to escape but Chow tells him he really is a cop and just to prove it, he’ll bleed to death right there. The cops arrest Bazooka Joe and charge him with raising the price of bubble gum right before Uncle Cop tells a young police officer he looks like the bad guy from Karate Kid II, a sequel that didn’t need to be made. So he smacks him on the head with the a brick. Uncle Cop’s boss looks at the young cop suffering brain damage and asks Uncle Cop if he wants to go get some donuts. City on fire was pretty cool, although it seemed to move a little fast in places. Visually, it was a treat.

David Bell’s Rating: 8/10

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