Color, 1999, 110 mins.

Directed by James Foley

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Chow Yun-Fat, Ric Young, Paul Ben-Victor, Jon Kit Lee, Andrew Pang, Brian Cox, Elizabeth Lindsey, Byron Mann, Kim Chan / Written by Robert Pucci / Music by Carter Burwell / Cinematography by Juan Ruiz Anchia

Format: DVD - New Line (MSRP $24.95)

Letterboxed (2.35:1) / Dolby Digital 5.1

Neither the best of the recent cycle of Asian-influenced action films nor the worst, The Corruptor features Mark Walhberg (uh, as opposed to Marky Mark) reteaming with director James Foley after their underrated domestic shocker, Fear. While Wahlberg's earlier action entry, The Big Hit, was one of the more irritating hyper-action efforts in recent years, he's mercifully in better hands here but really can't hold a candle to the screen presence of his costar, Chow Yun-Fat.

Danny Wallace (Wahlberg) is a moderately experienced cop assigned to Chinatown under the supervision of Nick Chen (Chow Yun-Fat), a cop who used his Triad connections to rise to the top. Unfortunately, a gang war between the Triads and the younger Fukienese Dragons is threatening to tear Chinatown apart, and Danny finds himself caught in the middle. The leader of the Dragons, Henry Lee (Ric Young) (the titular character), manipulates the political alliances within the community, causing Danny to question the integrity of Nick, who is torn between his social ties and his conscience.

While the first half of the film is a fairly engaging but traditional good cop/bad cop scenario, a mid-story twist raises the stakes considerably and really kicks the film into high gear. Most of the action sequences work well, though they never come close to attaining a John Woo level of intensity thanks to Foley's propensity for NYPD Blue-style zooms and rapid shock cutting. Chow Yun-Fat makes a credible, interesting flawed hero, indicating with both this and The Replacement Killers that he may very easily make the transition to an English language superstar. Carter Burwell's jagged, techno-laced score enhances the proceedings nicely but obviously doesn't function quite as well on its own, though New Line has thoughtfully isolated the entire score with Burwell commentary on one of the audio tracks.

Not surprisingly, the entire DVD package is top notch and lives up to New Line's already stellar reputation. The anamorphic transfer looks terrific and does an effective job of rendering this dark, gritty-looking film without any distracting video noise. The sound mix is completely organic and renders the gunshots, ambient street noises, and thudding music with plenty of ferocity, while Foley's commentary elaborates on everything from Chinese-American culture to the technical ins and outs of urban film shooting.

The accompanying documentary, From the (Under)Ground Up, covers virtually every aspect of the film and is far from your standard studio promotional piece. Oddly, the various segments of this documentary have been splintered apart as separate sections of the DVD; thus, the extended unrated version of the car chase (and it definitely is unrated!!) is a self-contained six minute chapter, as are several other interview sequences; thus, a slight pause occurs when moving from section to section. Even the trailer is thoroughly dissected, with two earlier drafts shown before the completed one. In virtually every respect, New Line has continued to set the standard once again.

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