When Triad leader Hung's wife gives birth to a baby boy, Hung considers leaving the world of the gangsters. Despite the fact that he is not sure of his decision, word gets out fast and now,... See full summary »
When Triad leader Hung's wife gives birth to a baby boy, Hung considers leaving the world of the gangsters. Despite the fact that he is not sure of his decision, word gets out fast and now, a brutal war begins in the world of "jiang-hu". Two hoodlums, Wing and Turbo, set to make a name for themselves, are ordered to kill Hung. Meanwhile, an internal conflict begins between Hung and his #1 man, Left-Hand. Despite this conflict, the two have nothing but respect for each other. However, they know deep down, that there are people waiting to get rid of Hung. Written by
A Mesmerizing and Visually Stunning Film by Ching-Po Wong
TRIAD UNDERWORLD is a little masterpiece of cinema. Though it was made in 2004 it is only now available in this country courtesy of Palisade Tartan Asia Extremes, but the wait was well worth it. Not only is the story (as written by Chi-Long To and Director Ching-Po Wong) mesmerizing through out the film, but the fact that it pulls a Guy de Maupassant-type ending that takes the audience by complete surprise. The aspect that makes this film an art work is the extraordinary creative cinematography by Charlie Lam and Kenny Lam: every frame of film is like a masterpiece of lighting and brilliant use of colors that give clues to the characters and the story - shots taken from beneath a glass floor during a fight, interludes of a near blank black screen except for windows of carefully suggestive color and luminous lighting, extensive use of slow motion photography during the very choreographed fight sequences all contribute to the mood of the Hong Kong underworld in the finest manner. The musical score by Mark Lui also deserves special recognition: often soundless mayhem is accompanied by ballades using both Eastern and Western thematic material.
The story seems rather straightforward: Triad leader Hung Yan-jau (Andy Lau)'s wife gives birth to a baby boy, and event that causes Hung to consider considers leaving the world of the gangsters. Hung's closest lifelong friend Left Hand AKA Lefty (Jacky Cheung) reminds Hung that Hung has always said he would leave the crime world if he had a wife and child. Lefty is more the playboy and both Hung and Lefty own spectacular restaurants. Should Hung decide to leave, taking his wife (Chien-lien Wu) and newborn son to New Zealand then the head of the Triad would pass to Lefty. Despite disagreements the two men stick together, especially when it becomes known that two young members of a rival gang Wing (Shawn Yue) and Turbo (Edison Chen) are out to become the next leaders of Hong Kong's famous 'jiang- hu' underworld and they are ordered by the competitive gang to Triad to kill Hung. There are brutal encounters and balletic street fights that take place outside the seeming quiet elegant restaurant dinner being observed by Hung and Lefty in honor of Hung's newborn boy. And at the denouement the roles of all concerned are revealed in a terrifically exciting manner! What had seemed to be action inside and outside is actually an amalgam of past and present!
The cast is uniformly excellent and the pace of direction is impeccable in arriving at the surprising ending. But the true glory of this film is the cinematic magic: a more artistic use of film would be difficult to imagine. This is one of those movies that should be part of the libraries of audiences who love fine thrillers and art lovers who are keen on performance art. Highly recommended.
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