BROTHERHOOD (1986) may be lost amid the sheer wealth of cop dramas and thrillers that Danny Lee made throughout the 1980s and 1990s, but it's worth singling out as something different from the usual action-focused pictures. This one's very much a slice of human drama, carefully detailing the psychology of the two main brothers who initially work as policemen before one of them joins a criminal gang, leading them on a path of increasing confrontation. It's a film that carefully depicts the social milieu of the era and goes into some depth when it comes to character psychology; it helps that both Lee and in particular Alex Man give excellent performances you can really understand. There's also a good amount of action, including very well-shot car chases and a brilliant shoot-out, and a typically entertaining Shing Fui-on in support.
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Brisk Tempo And Cursory Execution Create Shades Of Gray.
11 September 2006
This intense crime melodrama that showcases a number of combat sequences efficiently choreographed by director of action Wong Chi Wai is intended to depict a latter-day form of Yi, the ancient Chinese tradition of honour, loyalty and duty, with a variety of scenes reflecting the importance of brotherhood, portrayed here through comradeship that occurs during moments of extreme emotional strain as well as during times of physical peril. Ah Liu (Danny Lee) and Ah Keung, played by Alex Man, are partner constables and best friends; therefore, when Ah Keung resigns from his position following a conflict with a moralizing supervisor due to a perception of overzealous field behaviour, Ah Liu remains steadfast to his friend, demonstrating his loyalty even when Ah Keung joins a vicious gang of bandits in order to pay off debts that he has accumulated while attempting to begin a new career as lorry driver for construction sites. The head of the gang, Lung (Shing Fui On), persuades Ah Keung to intensify his involvement with the criminal group, but the former policeman discovers that there is as much dishonour to be found among thieves as there is honour, and when Ah Liu's younger brother Raymond, also a constable, and therefore thoroughly familiar with Lung and his followers, attempts to corner the gang, a violent climax is the result, engaging all of the principal characters, including Ah Liu, under suspension because of his continuing relationship with Ah Keung. The work is heavily cut for its Media Asia DVD release, including significant footage detailing Ah Keung's decisions both to adopt the life of a criminal and to abandon it, but director Stephen Shin's crisply linear methods here make for efficient action styled entertainment. It is recorded in the Cantonese dialect, with available English subtitles that but only vaguely will guide a viewer through the shoals of its dialogue. While any purpose of embodying Yi as related to brotherhood is negated early on, the film is certainly never dull.