Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Romance/ Drama/ Action
Director: Clarence Fok
NOT WORTH YOUR TIME
If imitation is an indication of admiration, Wong Jing and Clarence Fok worship at the throne of Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas.
We get what is basically a flashback for the entire movie, as Ho (Lau Ching Wan) recounts his life in the triads, accompanied by nonstop English language music from mostly the 60s. Director Clarence Fok even duplicates Scorcese’s less solid grasp of period music as the time period moves into the late 60s and early 70s.
If you’re going to remind viewers of Goodfellas, you’d better be prepared to deliver a masterpiece, and the filmmakers aren’t up to the task — not even close.
First of all, we’re talking about Hong Kong. Do we really need all of these English language tunes, other than as a slavish homage to Goodfellas? I would have appreciated more Cantonese language tunes.
Then there’s the style and period setting, which isn’t all that convincing. The film should be drenched in period detail, but it isn’t really, probably a casualty of a low budget.
Then there’s the characters, which are off putting. Ho (Lau Ching Wan) in particular is a low life who can’t keep his dick in his pants. Lok (Francis Ng) is Ho’s best friend, who becomes a cop. No, they don’t become enemies exactly. Since this was a corruption filled period in Hong Kong’s history, they help each other out. Ng is directed to play Lok as a complete loser. Ho is always putting his friend in jeopardy and Ng puts up with it for most of the movie.
I dunno. I just didn’t care much about anyone in the movie. Writer Wong Jing seemingly goes out of his way to demystify life in the triads. It all seems incredibly dull. Our heroes are dolts.
I understand Wong Jing’s desire to make a movie with no real heroes, like Goodfellas, but it’s beyond his reach. Goodfellas, despite it’s repellant characters, was fascinating. My guess is that it’s largely a matter of detail. Goodfellas was chock full of ethnographic detail. It showed the inner workings of the mob to an amazing degree. The H.K. Triad is a typically shallow Wong Jing product, but without the lurid pizazz Wong Jing sometimes brings to the table.
The result had me pausing the VCR to surf the net out of sheer restlessness and boredom.
I should mention that Lau Ching Wan is his usual capable self, but the way he’s directed and what he’s forced to say does him no favors. Francis Ng is okay. At least he isn’t playing someone demented this time around. Athena Chu and Diana Pang are fine as the romantic interests, but it’s dispiriting to see such lovely women portrayed as doormats, nothing more than sperm recipients for our supposed heroes.
It all adds up to very little, I’m afraid. The H.K. Triad is only for Wong Jing, Clarence Fok, Lau Ching Wan, and Francis Ng completists, and probably not even them.
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