This being a Mainland Chinese co-production, Lam has to walk the same tightrope that Johnnie To did with his Drug War (12), portraying the police in a positive light, refusing to glorify criminality, making sure everyone gets their just desserts. Lam lacks To’s confidence, and he delivers a more restrained, less subtle picture than his past films. Like a pianist playing scales before tackling a concerto, Wild City feels like a warm-up, as Lam restages old scenes with slight twists.
The crisscrossing pursuers and pesky police suggest a watered-down version of the treacheries in “City on Fire.” But the cluttered, unfolding dynamism of Mr. Lam’s action scenes remains resilient when gunplay or knife fights are thrust into street life.
In its intense stunt work (most of it done without CGI), Wild City feels like a throwback to the heyday [of Kong Kong cinema]. But the immediacy of the stunts also serves to heighten the film's suspense. Typical of Lam's films, the characters seem driven to violence out of sheer desperation.