Twilight Of The Warriors: Walled In

九龍城寨·圍城 | 九龙城寨之围城 | Kowloon Walled City

Reviewed by   |  Jun 4, 2024

Set mostly within the once infamous Kowloon Walled City, ‘Walled In’ sees newly arrived in 80s Hong Kong refugee Lok (Raymond Lam) flee into the confines of the makeshift city as he escapes a deal gone wrong with notorious gang boss Mr. Big (Sammo Hung). The walled city is under the strong leadership of another once notorious crime boss Cyclone (Louis Koo), Mr. Big and his goons not daring to venture into the city at the risk of going to war with him. Lok is soon taken under the wing of Cyclone, who while having a criminal empire, actually looks out for those under him and for the citizens of the walled city. Lok settles into life within the city finding the family and a purpose he never had. But when Lok’s past rears its mysterious head threatening the life he has now built, along with Mr. Big seeing an opportunity to muscle in on Cyclone’s turf, the walled city becomes a powder keg about to explode.

Arriving with a heft of rightly earned hype, ‘Walled In’ is an often epic, brutal, and thoroughly entertaining throwback to 80s Hong Kong style cinema. Soi Cheang (‘Shamo’, ‘Killzone 2’) weaves a meticulously made action drama that explores the brotherhood bonds so prominent in Hong Kong gangster life (and a staple of HK 80s action cinema) and celebrates the people, and their lives within, the once legendary Kowloon Walled City. While Cheang and his crew deliver the requisite impressively staged action, time is also spent on the lives and businesses within the walled city. We see a community, while often living in darkness, thriving, and supporting one another, the filmmakers making sure not to demonize all those who live within the walled city. Rebuilding a good chunk of the city on two huge soundstages, the makers vividly recreate (along with some CGI) the walled city allowing the actors and stunt people free reign to run riot within the confined streets. It’s an impressive and visually striking recreation which is as much a character as any of the humans.

While the walled city is a big character, the film at heart is about the brotherly and familial bonds of those in the criminal world and how actions perpetrated in the past often come back to haunt or destroy those who committed them in the present. Various allegiances are tested, and new bonds formed as Lok’s past and identity are revealed leading to an unequivocal change within the walled city. This in turn leads to some supercharged action all handled with verve and creativity by Kenji Tanigaki (‘SPL’, ‘Rurouni Kenshin’) and his team. Inventively using the confined spaces of the city, the action is sharp and brutal, creatively choreographed, and clear cut giving it impactful bite. Everyone gets to shine with leading man Raymond Lam (‘New Kung Fu Cult Master’) making for a likeable and lethal hero. While heavyweights such as Louis Koo and Sammo Hung are also great, it’s Philip Ng who steals the show as Hung’s deadly off-the-rails right-hand man, King. He’s a riot as the unhinged gangster and a whirlwind in the fight scenes using Spirit Power to become a formidable foe to the heroes.

Once the narrative finds its stride and focuses more on the warring gangster side of the plot, the walled city and its denizens take a bit of a back seat leading to the somewhat predictable and inevitable fallout for Lok and his new would-be family. Female characters are unfortunately given short shrift and there are a few flights of fancy during some of the fight and chase scenes that are a bit at odds with the mainly dark and brutal nature of the film (though there is a welcome shot of levity to make sure proceedings don’t get too nihilistic!). Still, ‘Walled In’ is a wild and entertaining ride featuring spectacular action, and a cast and crew at the top of their game.

‘Twilight Of The Warriors: Walled In’ is currently screening across UK and Irish cinemas, courtesy of Trinity CineAsia. Visit for further details.
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