Saturday, March 01, 2014

Drug War

As I finished seeing Johnnie To’s Chinese drug-bust thriller, very helpfully titled, Drug War, I was convinced. This can be remade into a brilliant Hindi film, perhaps with Ajay Devgn and Vidyut Jamwal as the two protagonists, the super cop, and the super villain, determined to stay alive at any cost, even if it meant betraying everyone he knew. Of course, certain things will have to be changed. In the vision of China’s war against drugs, the film’s ultimate vision is somewhat absolute, somewhat black and white. And, at the end, everybody dies.

In the Hindi version, we can keep the heroes alive. We will also have to give them girlfriends. Okay, one of the female police officers can be the girlfriend of the super cop. In the movie, it is mentioned that the super villain killed his wife and her two brothers. We can keep the wife alive and make her his salvation. We can make him repent and let him live, something the original film refuses to do.

Ironically, however, this is what lifts Drug War from a usual crime thriller to a poignant tragedy – its refusal to give the bad characters a chance. And, what wouldn’t the bad character do for a chance!

When the meth supplier is caught, at the end of his rope, he makes a deal with the cop. He will tell the cops about his network and in return, his life would be spared. In China, drug dealers get death, no question asked. The super cop takes up the offer. He wants the scum to be wiped out completely.

There begins a fantastical race against time, where the super cop impersonates as a wheeler dealer and meets an assortment of underworld character, each fascinating than the next, a jolly fellow who is call Ha Ha, for his laughs, two mute gunslingers and their equally mute wives, a drug lord whom everyone calls uncle. There are the usual double-crosses and inevitable gunfights and finally the faceoff between the good guy and the bad guy. “We had a deal,” the bad guy says. “I don’t deal with drug dealers,” says the good guy, “I kill them.”

But something to be said for the bad guy’s appetite to live. He would do anything to live, even if it means killing everyone he ever knew, even if it meant killing everybody on sight. And you know, it will all end in a litter of dead bodies.

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