Cold Steel ("Bian di lang yan")
Official Selection, Palm Springs Film Festival 2012
In 1938, during the second Sino-Japanese War, Mu Lianfeng (Peter Ho), a 19-year-old orphan, watches an American military plane crash in the forest. Lianfeng comes to the pilot’s rescue and takes him to his village where Liu Yan (Jia Song) has transformed her teashop into a makeshift hospital. As the pilot gradually recuperates, the friendship between the three slowly grows. However, when Lianfeng defends Liu Yan against soldiers of the Nationalist army, commander Wu (Ye Xinyu) arrests both of them and transports them towards his camp. On their way to the base, their convoy is attacked by a Japanese sniper who is eventually neutralized by Lianfeng. Impressed, squad leader Zhang Mengzi (Tony Leung Ka-fai) selects him to take part in an assassination mission targeting four Japanese generals and their Chinese interpreters. However, nothing goes as planned, which infuriates Japanese general Massaya and prompts him to send out his best sharpshooters to take down every last one of them.
After 17 years spent directing television series in North America, David Wu returns to his native land to give us COLD STEEL. While the name may be unfamiliar, many of you will have admired his work through the years as John Woo’s chosen editor for many of his early films, the influence of which proves to be greatly beneficial. He was a notable collaborator in the A BETTER TOMORROW film series, BULLET IN THE HEAD and HARD BOILED. COLD STEEL recalls the golden years of Hong Kong cinema, when it was perfectly normal to see a man killing people while sliding down a banner attached to a building or a woman slaying soldiers while hooked up to her lover’s back. Canadian-raised Thai actor-singer Peter Ho (SOPHIE’S REVENGE) brilliantly carries the film on his shoulders, solidly supported by actors Tony Leung Ka-fai (ASHES OF TIME), Jia Song (RED CLIFF) and Wilson Chu, who plays a dangerous Japanese willing to do anything to eradicate Lianfeng’s unity. COLD STEEL possesses all the required elements to make an exciting Chinese action flick: a profusion of gunplay and numerous explosions, presented in an incredibly elegant fashion. If the student has not yet surpassed the teacher, he is surely on the right track.
— Éric S. Boisvert