Let me start this with the fact that "The Dragon Family" has nothing plot wise for you. As an 80's era triad movie, it contains all the basic ingredients; blood brothers, traitor triad among the ranks, death of loved ones orchestrated by traitor triad and the bloody finale where traitor triad and friends get their comeuppance. Now, having said that, why still bother to watch something that you have probably seen in "A better tomorrow" (1986) or "Flaming Brothers" (1987) or even "Hong Kong Godfather" (1985)? The answer to that would probably because with every 80's triad movie, the handling of the elements is different. Yes, they ARE present in the movie, but the way they are handled varies from director to director. It might be seriously melodramatic (like Woo's "A better tomorrow") or even contain the remnants of Shaw Brother's method of intertwining campy dialog with extreme violence (like Lung Wei Wang's Hong Kong Godfather). Since "The Dragon Family" falls in between both very influential eras, it contains elements from both the Hong Kong New Wave and the waning and fading Shaw Brother's style. This fact is even represented in the cast of the movie; both containing new and upcoming stars during the 80's like Andy Lau etc. and at the same time having the old Shaw veterans play the older roles.
Just like the story itself, the acting is okay, meaning nothing to brag about or even to cringe on. Everybody in the movie plays their cookie- cutter roles to the hilt, be it the role of the revenge thirsty son of the fallen "good" triad leader to the money hungry ambitious "traitor" triad. One role worth noting is the one given to pop star Alan Tam Wing- Lun as Alan, the adopted hit man son of the "good" triad family. When we first see him carrying out the hit on one boss, we can't believe they chose HIM to play a hit man. Most of us would remember him before as the wimpy triad in "Tragic Hero" who gets his finger chopped off. Here, he looks like Tom Cruise in "Rain Man". But then the casting is in line with the classic, quintessential proverb, "never judge the book by its cover". In this movie, he fights like a seasoned hit man, efficiently taking down scores of bad guys using guns and martial arts convincingly.
Now let's discuss the action in the movie. The first part may be a little slow, but then when all the crying part is done we are treated to an extended massacre at a funeral. The scene is sudden and shocking and the action here is fast, brutal and bloody. People get shot and stabbed, classic Heroic Bloodshed Mayhem mixed with Martial Arts. (Courtesy of Action Choreographer Gordon Liu) In fact, the action reminded me of the action in "Tiger Cage" and in "She Shoots Straight", beautiful amalgamation of gun and martial arts action. The ending is also worth mentioning. It first starts with a stylish and bloody shootout a la Ringo Lam and ends with a mêlée of martial arts, fencing and lots of sharp and jagged glass. Final Analysis: Acting: Okay, Actors: Okay, Action: Damn Good. What more do you want HK fan?
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