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Set in 1938 China, Cold Steel follows Lianfeng (Peter Ho), a young hunter living a peaceful life in a small town. Out hunting one day, a plane crashes nearby, so Lianfeng investigates. He finds an American soldier trapped, and saves his life just before the plane explodes. Taking the soldier into town, Lianfeng meets Liu Yan (Song Jia), a woman who runs a teahouse and a makeshift hospital. Naturally, Lianfeng falls for Liu Yan, but her teahouse also causes problems for Lianfeng as he gets into a fight with some soldiers. Arrested for the dispute, Lianfeng saves the day once again as Japanese soldiers attack the truck he’s being transported in. Proving his skill with a sniper rifle, Lianfeng is given the option to be shot, or join the army. He reluctantly joins, and finds his new position will bring him back to the teahouse, just not in the way he imagined. Cold Steel screens as part of the 2012 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival.

David Wu may be better known for his editing work on films like Hard Boiled or Brotherhood of the Wolf , and after years of directing TV movies, Wu is back in feature film territory. He brings plenty of tense action with a love story at heart in Cold Steel , and the results are extremely entertaining. The film has a very light tone, despite the fact that it features numerous scenes of bloody violence, and Peter Ho is outstanding as hero Lianfeng.

It’s not perfect, and the film begins to drag a bit in the middle when a love affair between Lianfeng and Liu Yan begins, but it’s only because these scenes are sandwiched between such incredible action sequences. There’s also a tendency for things to get a bit melodramatic, with overpowering music becoming a bit too much at points. It tends to fit the light nature though, and the result is 90 minutes of entertainment.

Is Cold Steel Essential Reel Asian Viewing?

A definite must-see for the festival. Plenty of great, over-the-top action takes place in well designed sequences. The film looks fantastic, and Peter Ho creates a funny hero in Lianfeng. It does slow down a bit in the middle, but that just gives you time to breathe before the action becomes even more intense, leading into a more serious ending.

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