Hong Kong Godfather (HK 1985)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/9/11
Director: Wang Lung
Cast: Norman Chu (Tsui Siu Keung), Leung Ka-Yan, Wang Lung, Shih Kien, cameo by Ken Boyle

A pretty typical Hong Kong gangster movie with an unapologetically brutal and jaw-dropping ending. Mr. Big (Mr. Han himself, Shih Kien) is a kind and wise elder boss of the criminal underworld. His two main enforcers are Playboy Lung (Tsui Siu Keung) and Rotten Chi (a familiar baddie whose name I don't know), and their rivalry spells certain doom. Sergeant Wen and Mad Wei (Leung Ka-Yan) also have strong ties to Mr. Big and come to visit him on his birthday. And that's when the trouble begins... A new gang is muscling in on Mr. Big's turf and the ambitious Chi wants a piece of the action. This leads to the inevitable betrayal, followed by an escalating cycle of bloody retribution until no one is left standing.

Leung Ka-Yan gives a somber and gripping performance, and carries the majority of the emotional weight in the film. The actor who plays Chi also gives a strong and emotionally endearing performance, and his character is equally pitiful and despicable. Tsui Siu Keung is rock solid, although he suffers from a terrible perm and a ridiculous tail. The film looks good, is well made, and goes through the regular dramatic paces of the genre. Where it really stands out is in its shockingly violent and long-winded climax. Lung, Wei, and Wen storm the bad guy's office armed only with machetes, and take on dozens opponents before reaching their goal. A hard-hitting fight between Leung Ka-Yan and director Wang Lung is fantastic, and the brutal action never lets up. Good stuff, with a surprising amount of blood thrown in for good measure. They don't make 'em like this anymore...