THERE’S nothing new to report in the world of Hong Kong gangster films.
These films often have newcomers pledging their loyalty to triads in initiation ceremonies; there are fights and chases in the streets, often with gangsters brandishing machetes while dressed in black; the leader of the newcomers falls in love with a beautiful woman; there’s a power fight; there are meetings between the leaders of the mobs, who drink Chinese tea or sip red wine; and someone ends up in bed with a mob leader’s wife.
Director Daniel Yee’s Cantonese film, Young and Dangerous: Reloaded, is a remake of Young and Dangerous, and is based on a comic book. It’s guilty of using all of the above characteristics.
A narrator says at the beginning of the film: in Hong Kong, gangs are like 7-Elevens; they’re on every street corner. This makes me wonder why the filmmakers decided to waste our time regurgitating old themes.
Maybe that’s why they decided to insert a few sex scenes, thinking that these titillating moments would satiate viewers.
For example, it has a newbie gangster getting it on with two women in a backstreet. There are also scenes of Elvis-looking, mascara-wearing mob boss Kwan (Sammy Sum) in bed with another mob boss’ wife, Anna (Winnie Leung).
But nothing is as perverted (to the film, it’s even funny) as showing a muscular gangster raping an underaged girl to death in a nightclub. The girl’s cousin, a newbie gangster, says nonchalantly that she died from “trauma to the vagina”.
There is a scene that I wish the filmmaker could have expanded upon. The four newbie gangsters — handsome Ho-Nam (Chung Him Law), sex maniac Chicken (Oscar Leung), Tin-Yee (Dominic Ho) and Pou-Pan (Jazz Lam) — re asked to recruit members for guitar-playing mobster Brother Bee (singer-musician Paul Wong).
Two of them approach a reverend to contribute members to the gang. The reverend says: “No, it’ll be like leading my flock into the valley of darkness.”
The film pays homage to its comic-book roots in the opening scene when, backed by heavy metal music, it introduces the four newbies in a comic-book page-flipping sequence. It also uses this method to segue into other scenes.
The director is obviously influenced by US director Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. In one scene, Yee places the camera inside a car booth and shows the four newbies taking out machetes from it. In another, he moves the camera around a circular table while showing people talking and eating.
Yee misses an opportunity to dig deeper into Ho-Nam’s childhood. Ho-Nam takes his girlfriend, Lorraine, to visit the flat building (a unit is 200 square feet) he grew up in. She expresses surprise at the size of the unit.
Yee could have had her press Ho-Nam for more details of his childhood. After all, she’s a rich man’s daughter, so she could have showed more interest in his life.
I didn’t accept that her father would easily accept the idea of a gangster becoming his son-in-law. Which father would do this, even if he loved his daughter?
He tells Ho-Nam: “In triads, you’re like a needle in a haystack.” He urges him to work for him.
Viewers won’t accept the relationship between Ho-Nam and Lorraine as it’s superficial. There’s also no chemistry between them.
Like I said in my review of Hong Kong gangster film Triad, the gangsters on the island have not progressed from using machetes. It’s ludicrous to see them running through busy streets waving these weapons.
Young and Dangerous: Reloaded is one in a long line of boring gangster films. It’s heavy on violence but light on originality.
2½ out of 5
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