Donnie Yen and Andy Lau in the Hong Kong crime drama from Wong Jing

Donny Yen and Andy Lau are ‘Chasing the Dragon’ on Netflix

Directed by the insanely prolific Hong Kong action veteran Wong Jing, Chasing the Dragon (China, 2017) is the filmmaker’s crime epic, a historical drama that charts the rise and fall of two notorious gangsters who thrived in the rampant corruption enabled by Britain’s colonial rule of Hong Kong in the 1960s. The title is slang […]

Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame star, Nicholas Ray directs from the Dorothy B. Hughes novel

Last Chance: Nicholas Ray’s ‘In a Lonely Place’ on Criterion Channel

In a Lonely Place (1950) hasn’t much to do with the Dorothy B. Hughes novel on which it was ostensibly based, beyond the title (one of the most evocative in noir history), the Los Angeles setting, and the murder of a young woman that puts our ostensible hero, volatile, hard-drinking Hollywood screenwriter Dixon Steele (Humphrey […]

Johnny Hallyday stars in the Johnnie To crime thriller from Hong Kong

Johnny Hallyday gets ‘Vengeance,’ Johnnie To style, on FilmStruck

Johnnie To, the reigning king of the crime movie and the romantic code of gangster brothers within the mercenary world of organized crime, delivers another perfect little genre piece with Vengeance (Hong Kong, 2009). French pop legend Johnny Hallyday stars as Costello, a retired pro who comes to Macau to take revenge on the men […]

Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on Kristanna Loken in the Terminator sequel directed by Jonathan Mostow

‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’ – Ah-nold is back in black on Netflix

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old, obsolete Terminator is back in black in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003). Black leather, that is, as well as his trademark dark glasses and mono-syllabic punchlines. He may be machine, but he’s got the spirit of a human whirring inside the gearbox as he plays tough-love father figure to John […]

Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell star in the 1948 film noir classic.

Nicholas Ray’s ‘They Live by Night’ on FilmStruck

“This boy… and this girl… were never properly introduced to the world we live in…,” begins They Live By Night (1948), a bubble of a brief, idealized vision of young love immediately swept away in the urgency and desperation of the prison break in the very next scene. The directorial debut of American filmmaker Nicholas […]

Alec Baldwin in 'Miami Blues,' directed by Geroge Armitage.

‘Miami Blues’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

Miami Blues (1990) should have been the first film in funky crime movie franchise. It’s based on the first of four novels by modern hardboiled crime author Charles Willeford featuring Miami police detective Hoke Moseley; adapted and directed by George Armitage, who learned his trade making pictures for Roger Corman; and produced by Jonathan Demme, […]

Al Pacino is Cuban thug turned Miami drug lord Tony Montana in Brian De Palma's 'Scarface'

‘Scarface’ – Say hello to my little friend on Netflix

Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983), ostensibly a remake of the Howard Hawks gangster classic, moves the iconic rise and fall crime opera from the tommy-gun gangster street battles of the prohibition era to the cocaine wars of Florida in the eighties. In the process, De Palma, screenwriter Oliver Stone, and star Al Pacino carved out […]

Szabolcs Thuróczy and Zoltán Fenyvesi in the film by Attila Till from Hungary

‘Kills on Wheels’ – Wheelchair assassins on Netflix

The offbeat Hungarian thriller Kills on Wheels (Hungary, 2016) turns a dark subject into an unexpected crime tale of triumph and hope with a streak of black comedy. Zoli and Barba are disabled teenagers in a rehabilitation facility where they meet Janos (Szabolcs Thuróczy), a former fireman now paralyzed from the waist down. Gruff and […]

Bong Joon-ho stars in the gangster thriller from South Korea

‘The Man from Nowhere’ – South Korean vengeance on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

The Man from Nowhere (South Korea, 2010) – South Korea’s top box office hit of 2010 is as slick and swift an underworld thriller as you’ll find. Matinee idol Won Bin (of Bong Joon-ho’s Mother) is a shaggy pawn shop proprietor in a miserable slum hiding from his past life as a highly-trained government agent […]