A (2005)
Ah Sou

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/23/2007
Summary: 5/10 starts off well, then shoots its leg off

2005, the Hong Kong movie is floundering, and somebody must have concluded that what they needed was to promote some new talent. Somebody, possibly the same somebody, must have seen minor arthouse success FU BO and decided that one of its directors was the answer - Wong Ching-Po. They evidently threw quite a lot of money at him, and got two gangster films as a result - JIANG HU and AH SOU.

AH SOU tells the story of Phoebe, a sweet and good natured girl.who is the adopted daughter of Triad Big Boss Eric Tsang. After a failed assassination attempt on her father, Phoebe is sent off to the US to study. After a few years she returns, just in time for another assassination attempt that is more successful. To her surprise, she becomes the new Dai Lo of the Triad - which does not go down all that well.

I heard so many bad things about this film that the DVD has sat unwatched for about 18 months, before I finally decided to get it out of the way. First impressions were that the film had been unfairly maligned, with some slick cinematography, charismatic performances from the cast. The excessive and pretentious attempts at stylisation that blighted JIANG HU seemed to have been left behind, and the story seemed interesting enough. For half an hour or so I was quite enjoying it, and anticipated giving it a reasonably favourable review. Past that, I noticed that I was starting to get a bit bored as the pacing flagged and it didn't seem to be going anywhere. Perhaps Wong Ching-Po started to feel the same way, because after a while those gratuitous attempts at 'arty' stylishness start to creep in - camera and editing effects which seem to serve no purpose except to say "look, I'm a director!". The story still held some interest though... until it stopped making sense. First it throws a curveball of a plot twist that seemed to have had zero foreshadowing, and made very little sense (it changes the perception of at least one major character in a way that seems more random than unexpected). Then it just seems to give up, and plunges headlong into a literal wreck of a conclusion that offers no resolution or satisfaction.

The production values are high, and the cast give their characters their best shot, but ultimately it's all sabotaged by Wong Ching-Po's apparently confused attempts to stake out turf as a stylish and innovative director (perhaps fancying himself as the next Wong Kar-Wai). Somebody needs to explain that style and originality aren't a replacement for having your story make sense and your characters act consistently/logically, and that genuine style complements the tale rather than distracts from or obfuscates it. Or, they just need to stop giving him money to make films (and give it to Edmond Pang instead).

Oh, apparently they already did :-p

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Chinoco
Date: 07/28/2006
Summary: What a waste.

This one was so bad that it shocked me. Why? Well, I didn't think that it would be possible for a film with Simon Yam, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang, and Alex Fong, to be anything less than excellent. These guys have all had feature roles in all sorts of outstanding movies.

Ah Sou or "Mob Sister" is about a HK Triad family run by Eric Tsang. Karena Lam Ka-Yan stars as his daughter Nova- A girl not really associated with the inner workings of the family. She is just home visiting from college in America. Tsang is shown as basically a good guy, and he runs his family with his trusted childhood friends Chance (Yam), Buddy (Fong), & Whacko (Wong).

The main plot revolves around what will happen to the crime family when Tsang is suddenly murdered. Dying, Tsang whispers something to Simon Yam's character. Yam tells Nova that it was her father’s last wish for her to be the new leader of the family. This does not go over well with the remaining brothers. It's up to Nova to set the family situation right. Apparently she has other things to do however, and spends the rest of the movie moping around and dating a pizza delivery boy.

Part of the reason this movie fails (although there are many), is the fact that Nova is the true lead in the film. Not only is she the star, but her character really does nothing! At one crucial scene, she goes in front of the other Triad territorial leaders and actually sits there and cries. Some leadership. In any real (or HK movie) Triad situation, Mob "Sissy" would have been taken out instantly, and had her territory snatched up in minutes!

Yam's, Fong's, and Wong's talents are really wasted here. I know they didn't have much to work with this script; but I still expected more of an effort. Tsang is ok, but as mentioned he is killed off fairly early in the movie. Another thing that really bothered me about this movie was its constant attempt to be "artistic". Several scenes are interrupted by strange animations and horrible romantic music. I'm not sure what the point of any of that was.

The ending of the film was especially weak. Just when the plot was finally gathering some momentum featuring a possible betrayal by one of the brothers; we are let down again. The climax features a car crash scene where all of the brothers and their men jump into identical black sedans, and proceed to ram into each other. We are "treated" to several slow-motion and varied angle shots of car after car crashing. Not a shot is fired, not a punch is thrown. Then the Triads decide to disband. I won't tell you the reason, but trust me it's a joke, and completely unrealistic. The end.

Maybe the story would have worked a little better had it focused more on the four brothers. Anyway, avoid this one like the plague unless you are a fan of one of the four stars and need to see all of their movies.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/01/2006
Summary: KArena Lam is the next big actress

I just have to say KArena Lam will be the next big actress, she has a lot of range even though i did find her playing a triad boss too much of a stretch, due to how young she looks!!

This movie, its hard for me to figure out!! It feels like a drawn out mini series, condensed into a 90 minute movie. It feels like nothing much happens, or it takes its time for something TO happen

The plot, is nothing new. Who killed the triad boss and why!! Will this cause a mass power rush by others to be number one??

The only character is liked was Yueh Wah, he is such a underrated actor and he does kick some ass!!

The ending semi makes up for this slow paced movie but then again, it goes a little over dramatic!!

A triad drama, with some action, and a ending which is a little suprising

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/19/2005

Unlike a lot of other Hong Kong movie reviewers, I think I've been pretty forgiving to their output over the last couple of years. It's probably due to the love I have of Hong Kong's "golden age" of the late 1980's-early 1990's that I haven't jumped on the "Hong Kong cinema is dead" bandwagon. But that's getting harder and harder to do. Hong Kong's output this year has been less than stellar (to say the least), and features like Ah Sou (aka Mob Sister) aren't going to sway anyone's opinion that Hong Kong studios are making a comeback anytime soon.

Directed by Wong Ching Po (Jiang Hu), Ah Sou tells the story of a young woman (newcomer Annie Lau) who is promoted to the top of a Triad gang after her father (Eric Tsang), the former dai lo, is assassinated. Of course, the girl doesn't want to become a gangster (she's more interested in pursuing a romance with the local pizza delivery boy), and this leads to all sorts of double-crosses as the remaining leaders in the gang vie for power. As with most movies of this type, things come to a head in a series of bloody confrontations that lead to the crowning of the true leader of the gang.

Ah, where to begin? The plot is hardly nothing new, and the acting is sub-par. Annie Lau is wooden and uninspiring, and even veterans like Simon Yam and Anthony Wong seem to be phoning in their performances. Ah Sou is also poorly-paced; there's just way too much time dedicated to the pizza boy romantic bits, especially since the relationship never seems to go anywhere -- which is kind of a metaphor for the movie as a whole. Through the whole running time, Ah Sou accomplishes nothing. We never like the characters and don't care what happens to them. I spent a good portion of Ah Sou's running time wondering exactly when it would end, and I suspect most viewers -- even hard-core HK movie fans -- will end up feeling the same.

Probably the most damning part of Ah Sou is Wong Ching Po himself. He mistakes gimmickry (animated sequences, sideways shots, slow-motion, etc.) for story-telling. There are just way too many "look at me" moments which come off as film school-inspired cinematic mastrubation, rather than actual film-making. Disappointingly, this seems to be where Hong Kong movies have been headed nowadays, with directors just throwing everything in their palletes against the wall and seeing if anything sticks. In all honesty, if this is the sort of output Hong Kong studios are going to be churning out from now on, most viewers aren't going to stay faithful for that much longer -- even the most die-hard fanboys have their limits.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: dleedlee
Date: 10/08/2005

A muddled script about triad vengeance and forgiveness, Anthony Wong's gangster mugging and Karena Lam's performance are the reasons to watch this film. Annie Liu, a newcomer, is awful as the mopey adopted daughter of Eric Tsang, a triad boss. Unfortunately, she is the centerpiece of the story. Simon Yam (in a lovely pastel blue suit and white belt accent), Alex Fong and Liu Ye fill out the roles as triad brothers. Yuen Wah plays a reformed triad, now a Buddhist monk. Liu Ye, an up and coming heartthrob from the mainland (Foliage, Purple Butterfly, Jasmine Women, Balzac and the Little Seamstress, Lan Yu and Postmen in the Mountains, among others) should also be singled out for his performance. His character, Pilot, Phoebe's bodyguard, is more fleshed out than his triad brethren. Karena Lam looking and acting beyond her years reminds me of a younger Carina Lau. Another sartorial note, Anthony Wong wears a couple of the worst looking suits ever. On the other hand, the film is festooned with fine designer eyewear, I'm guessing from one of the film's underwriter.

The cinematography and art design are quite striking and adds a positive and welcome note to the feature. There are all sorts of camera trickery and effects, and also bits of animation and CGI that help maintain interest where the plot falters. A multi-car crash scene seems to be resurrected out of the '80s and strikes an incongruous tone to an otherwise mostly understated direction. Action fans will be disappointed with not much beyond a couple of brief flashback action scenes, the aforementioned crash-o-mania car sequence and a slow motion ambush scene. The film has a decidedly Korean feel to it, in pacing, music and design; perhaps it's the music by Remedios. A great deal of the scenes is shot in slow motion. While very stylish looking, the tempo is too languid overall to sustain interest. I found myself too often looking at how much time was remaining rather than being engrossed in the story.

Filmed in Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Reviewer Score: 5