DAVID WU’S COLD STEEL
DAVID WU’S COLD STEEL: Bullets Know No Mercy
By Marybel Gervais
(Translated by Adam Abouaccar)
What are the criteria of a good war film, all nations combined? Many will say that the action scenes should be many and strong. Others prefer the moments representing the calm before the storm. The balance between the two creates the perfect harmony that’s sure to please both parties. As far as I’m concerned, I like to feel a complicity, an intimacy with the characters that’s comparable to what is shared between them. I find the waiting periods during which the dialogue carefully lays down the important pieces of the game that will be the key to the success of the action scenes. The new feature film by director/actor/editor David Wu, Cold Steel, demonstrates that perfect communion between the moments that keep us breathless and those that allow us to breathe, all the while inviting us to deepen our chemistry with the hero.
In a small Chinese village affected, like the rest of the country, by a fierce war with the Japanese, Liangfeng Mu (Peter Ho) leads his life as he can. He is a sincere young man who often plays the role of Good Samaritan to the world around him. One of these days, he helps an old injured man following the crash of his plane. This will be one of those encounters that change one’s life. John in many ways becomes Mu’s mentor. He will share with him his passion for firearms and bestow upon him his favourite Springfield. During an altercation in his village, where the Chinese army is present, Mu will be forced to enlist. His shooting abilities are clearly recognized. The romance that has developed recently between Mu and Liu Yan, the owner of a teahouse, will be strengthened by the distance between the two lovebirds. “Out of sight, out of mind” rings decidedly false to their ears. Mu Liangfeng learns the hardness and ruthlessness of life outside his small community and clings to this newfound love to survive the worst.
The humanity shown by Liangfeng quickly strengthens our empathy for the protagonist. Thanks to screenwriting’s efficiency, the story touches us deeply and takes us into the intimacy of Mu. He becomes our ally in his own adventure. His struggles, joys, hopes become our own. David Wu has rubbed shoulders with veterans and he himself is someone whose resume is too long to list. His mastery of the art that he practices is genuine and it is this that makes Cold Steel a success on every level. His story, painstakingly written, is touching and punctuated by a refreshing humour that lightens up the hardness and coldness of certain sequences. The scenes fit together perfectly consecutively and each has its place constructively. The great tale of a heroic little man.
Technically, Cold Steel will not be outshone. Some shots are breathtaking without notice. The shooting locations evidently add their own exotic twist to the film. The camera’s movements perilously gratify the action scenes and their spectacular explosions. We are far from dealing with a group of amateurs. Music personifies the spirit of the film. Most of the time, the images flash over a classical soundtrack, which is perfectly suited to this piece that respects the principles of art. Frankly, the design of David Wu’s Cold Steel is the display of an absolute and beautiful unity.
A must-see among this year’s selection, Cold Steel will not disappoint those who love heroic epics set against the backdrop of war. Take this hour and a half to forget the numerous martial arts stories that have come out of this region and open your eyes to the other realities surrounding its people. The war has actually forged several nations, including their own. The story of Liangfeng is of course fictional, but it does not sound altogether fabricated. A real achievement, this Cold Steel. David Wu at his best!
COLD STEEL will have its Canadian premiere July 21st at 16:20 in the Hall Theater. More info on this film HERE.