Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone (2000)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director: Dante Lam Chiu-Yin]
Cast: Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Sandra Ng Kwan-Yu

This recent Tony Leung Kar-Fei vehicle is a kind of comic sendup of Hong Kong gangsters. Leung Kar-Fei is a mob boss who learns that someone will try to kill him within forty-eight hours. This knowledge causes him to question his relationships to others in his gang.

In terms of filmmaking craft, the movie is nothing special. The cinematography is pretty bare-bones, and the art direction is pretty spare and kind of ugly. But the film has a surprisingly good absurdist sense of humor, and Tony Leung makes the most of it, turning in one of his best performances. Sandra Ng, as his wife, Roy Cheung as his bodyguard, and a slew of other supporting players do good with small roles. Anthony Wong shows up as the god of loyalty, who kind of randomly saves Tony at just the right moment.

The narrative technique of the film is unusual for Hong Kong films, but it’s a pretty common approach elsewhere. And the idea that loyalty is a lost cause in today’s triad society has been plugged in Hong Kong movies since John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and before it. Fault the movie for not being original, but it has a genial charm to it that, coupled with Tony’s performance, kind of wins you over.

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