City on Fire (1987 film)

For the 1979 American disaster film, see City on Fire (1979 film).
City on Fire

Hong Kong theatrical poster
Directed by Ringo Lam
Produced by Karl Maka
Ringo Lam
Written by Ringo Lam
Starring Chow Yun-fat
Danny Lee
Sun Yueh
Carrie Ng
Roy Cheung
Music by Teddy Robin Kwan
Cinematography Andrew Lau
Edited by Wong Ming-Lam
Distributed by Cinema City & Films Co. (Hong Kong)
Release dates
  • February 13, 1987 (1987-02-13)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$ 19,723,505

City on Fire (simplified Chinese: 龙虎风云; traditional Chinese: 龍虎風雲; pinyin: Lóng hǔ fēng yún) is a 1987 Hong Kong crime film written, produced and directed by Ringo Lam, and starring Chow Yun-fat, Danny Lee and Sun Yueh. Following A Better Tomorrow (1986), it helped establish Chow's popularity as an action star in Asia, and to a lesser degree, North America.


After the death of a fellow cop (Elvis Tsui), Ko Chow (Chow Yun Fat) is sent undercover by his superior Inspector Lau (Sun Yueh) to infiltrate a syndicate responsible for a brutal jewelry robbery, led by their leader, Fu (Danny Lee). However, after gaining the confidence of the men he is supposed to be taking down, Ko Chow forms an unlikely friendship with Fu. Meanwhile, due to Ko Chow’s newfound association with the syndicate, he finds himself pursued by the police sent by Inspector John (Roy Cheung), who are unaware of his true identity. Disillusioned by the position he is in, Ko Chow’s personal ethics are put to the test, leaving him torn between his loyalty to his new friend, and his duty to bring the criminals to justice.


[1] [2]


Filming began in Hong Kong in 1985 and concluded around the Christmas season.


City on Fire is Ringo Lam's most celebrated work. The film has been critically acclaimed, holding a 91% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[3]


Quentin Tarantino's 1992 film Reservoir Dogs includes several similar key plot elements and scenes, most notably the famous Mexican standoff near the end of the film. After critic Jeffrey Dawson noted "in jest, similar elements" in Empire, other publications including Film Threat promoted the observation, and a Michigan film student created a 1995 short film, Who Do You Think You're Fooling?,[4] which mixed dialog and visuals from both movies to demonstrate the similarities.[5] In addition to Reservoir Dogs, critic Matt McAllister notes that one "can equally see the influence of City On Fire - and similar Hong Kong cops-and-robbers movies - on many other Hollywood 'undercover cop' movies such as Point Break."[6]

Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee faced a role-reversal two years later when, in John Woo's The Killer, Chow plays a hitman who bonds with Lee, this time appearing as the cop.


  1. City on Fire at HKMDB
  2. City on Fire at
  3. City on Fire at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. "Who Do You Think You're Fooling?", by Mike White YouTube
  5. Jeffrey Dawson (1995). Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 90.
  6. McAllister, Matt (26 April 2005). "City On Fire Film Review". Retrieved 29 March 2012.
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