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A True Mob Story
|     review    |     awards     |     availability     |
Andy Lau and Gigi Leung
Chinese: 龍在江湖
Year: 1998
Director: Wong Jing
Cast: Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Gigi Leung Wing-Kei, Suki Kwan Sau-Mei, Mark Cheng Ho-Nam, Ben Ng Ngai-Cheung, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Ng Chi-Hung, Chan Wai-Man, Lee Siu-Kei, David Lee Seung-Man, Wong Tin-Lam, Dennis Chan Kwok-San, Joe Ma Tak-Chung
The Skinny: Wong Jing makes a good movie! This commercial triad drama starring Andy Lau proves to be affecting and even a little complex.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Triple-threat Wong Jing wrote, produced and directed this hit triad drama. A True Mob Story deals with the trials of a low-level triad boss named Cheung Dee (Andy Lau) as he finds himself double-crossed by those he trusts and hunted by those heís hurt. Years ago, Cheung Dee saved boss Prince (Mark Cheng) from evil triad Crazy Ball (a vicious Ben Ng). The act of heroism won him fame and a territory. Sadly, the years since have not been kind, as heís become a bit of a joke. Dee is now near-spineless, kowtowing to his bosses and taking credit where it isnít deserved.

Despite all this, heís cared for by his long-suffering friend Ruby (Suki Kwan), who has held a torch for him since his wife died in the same fight that earned Dee his fame. Her affection for Dee is probably the most compelling relationship in the movie, but itís downplayed as soon as Gigi Leung enters as his lawyer Sandy. She has faith in Dee, believing heís a good guy despite his triad lifestyle.

It turns out that Dee is a good guy - an example of the righteous triad glorified in movies like A Better Tomorrow. Unfortunately, Wong Jingís triad underworld is not the one popularized in movies like Young and Dangerous. Deeís spinelessness comes from the fact that his brand of righteousness is ineffective in the underworld - he becomes everyoneís patsy and whipping boy. It isnít until Dee takes a stand and fights back that he regains his self-respect. 

This is a commercial story with some dark subtext. Wong Jing has managed to take his usual cloying themes and give them some weight. Helping things is Andy Lau, who turns in one of his best performances ever. He sometimes recalls his more smarmy and annoying characters, but he adds depth behind the buffoonish facade. Suki Kwan is impressive as Ruby, and the usual gang of triad supporting players (Mark Cheng and Ben Ng) are effectively sinister. 

The film falters in the subplot of lawyer Sandy, who is possibly the most unrealistic character ever seen in an HK film. Itís mind-boggling to believe she would give up everything for Dee, but she does - and willingly. Sandy is Wong Jingís deux ex machina, and sheís played with wooden flair by the typically wooden Gigi Leung. At least the film doesnít compromise, giving us a moral among this battlefield of moral ambiguity:  It doesnít pay to be a wise guy - even if youíre a good one.

It would be better if that message were more apparent, but youíre torn between rooting for Dee and wondering how a weasel like him can get off (despite his righteousness, heís a pretty average triad). Wong Jing mixes his messages and leaves us wondering what the hell heís talking about. However, the film is excellent entertainment. Wong Jing and Andy Lau have given us a dark, turbulent and possibly unsatisfying ride, but one that is definitely worth taking. (Kozo 1998)

 
Awards: 18th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Nomination - Best Song ("You're My Woman", performed by Andy Lau Tak-Wah)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd.

   
 
 
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