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When the boss of a highly profitable Triad family is forced to flee from Hong Kong, rival gangs swoop in to steal any piece of the action they can. York Koo (Andy Lau) becomes the family's acting boss, and must do what he can to handle the difficult situation, with mounting pressure from both the Hong Kong police, and rival families. Written by
Hong Kong Godfather is more of a action movie than a gangster drama. The story is very simple: Two triad (H.K. mafia) gangs join to eliminate a third gang, Hung Hing Society, whose leader Mr. Koo have to escape H.K. because the police (wrongly) suspects him to be involved in the killing of another triad leader. Mark, York (Andy Lau) and the hot tempered Michael now have to take care of "business". Officer Leung (Roy Cheung) from the H.K. police has returned from U.K. and starts to interfere in the gang war.
There are no surprises or clever script writing and the story is very thin, as a matter of fact that was the whole story, now it is only the question about who is going to win the gangster war. The good thing, for those who like action, is that most of the movie contains of gangfighting. There are some bloodsquibs, but this is not a heroic bloodshed movie, there is much more fighting than gun play. The violence sometimes get bloody and brutal, like stabbing in the ear (somewhat hidden) and an axe that impales a back (on screen). Sometimes (only sometimes) it is hard to see who is attacking who, there are just a lot of gangmembers fighting it out in the streets. Among the best scenes are when York alone is attacked by a huge gang and the scene where Michael leads an attack on enemy leader Woody and his gang, plus of course the final battle between the gangs, a battle also joined by the police.
The tone is serious throughout the whole movie and we don't have to suffer from any childish H.K. humor. Unfortunately, the sound effects during the fights are like old fashioned kung fu movie sound effects, maybe a little toned down, that more often than not are out of sync with the movements. The music is very good though (probably stolen from another movie, as usual in H.K. movies) and contributes to somewhat lift the movie. Andy Lau is good but has an easy role, Roy Cheung is also good but I think he is better as a ruthless criminal.
There is hardly any character development and it is sometimes hard to understand the logic. Why is York hesitating to take over the leadership when it is obvious that Michael is too hot tempered and not intelligent enough to be a good leader ? Why does not Hung Hing Society let the other gang and the police finish their fight before they join the battle so that they only have to fight the remains ? How can gangleader Fred so easily manipulate gangleader Woody? But this is not about story, character development, smart tactics or logic, it is simply about action.
H.K. Godfather is well paced with a lot of action and some (not much) brutal violence. You will not be bored but don't expect a masterpiece. 6 / 10.
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