To Be Number One (1991)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2007-04-29
Summary: Not much new....
To Be Number One is a crime drama that tells the story of Crippled Ho (Ray Lui), a gang leader from the mainland who comes to Hong Kong during the 70s to escape the Cultural Revolution. He, along with his small outfit, work odd jobs in the city, all while pulling small time capers in order to supplement their incomes. When they start to step on the toes of more powerful gangs, they come to the attention of Hong Kong's top crime figure, Wu Shin-Kwan (Kent Cheng). Seeing potential in Ho, he allows him to work under his umbrella of protection in the thriving drug trade. Eventually, Ho starts to feel that he deserves more than he is being given, and decides to break from Wu. Thus begins a rivalry between to the two that turns into a bloody gang war for decades.

Crime dramas involving the triads are always enjoyable, but To Be Number One never really breaks from the pack and establishes itself as anything different. Ray Lui displays a suitable, menacing sneer in most of his scenes, but doesn't add a lot of character to Crippled Ho other than being ruthless and power hungry. Cecilia Yip and Lawrence Ng have probably the two most interesting roles with Lau as Ho's wife and Ng as Wu Ming, Ho's Lothario friend who lusts after May (Amy Yip), Wu Shin-Kwan's girlfriend. Being a retread of oft-used plots, you expect the rise to power, the struggle against rivals, the excess of riches and the eventual downfall due to complacency and jealousy among former partners. To Be No. 1 is adequate if you're in the mood for Tales of the Triads, but don't expect anything more.

Reviewer Score: 5