Street of Fury (1996)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2009-02-10
Until Teresa Mak Ga-Kei shows up at about the 48 minute mark, “Street of Fury” is by-the-numbers young gangsters on the way up flick, produced in the wake of the hugely popular “Young and Dangerous” from earlier in 1996. The thrown together combination of young stars on their way up (Louis Koo Tin-Lok as the callow Lung), seasoned genre artists hamming it up (Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong having his usual twitchy good time as Chuen Wong, the King) and old pros phoning in their stock roles (Liu Fan and Wong Yat-Fei as the aunt and uncle) together with unexciting action choreography and cardboard thin characters makes it look like just another dreary Triad film.

The two main male characters are introduced right away with backgrounds filled in quickly. Foo lives in a housing project with his loutish aunt and uncle who play endless games of mahjong with their friends and complains that Foo isn't enough like his brother, Lung. We find out that Foo has been fired from a couple of jobs and thrown out of school for fighting—clearly a tough guy or at least an anti-social guy. Lung works at a garage. He is propositioned by the girlfriend of his boss--the boss walks in and attacks Lung who knocks him unconscious, slapping the girlfriend on the way out. The two of them play soccer in game that pits their team against another bunch of toughs from the neighborhood. The leader of the opposing team has bet $HK1000 on the game which he loses, departing with bad grace. After the game Lung sends Yee, his girlfriend who is played by Gigi Lai Chi to pick up more beer. She is threatened and molested by Fatty, the leader of the guys they just beat, with Foo, Lung and their friends showing up just in time.

Fatty is protected by low-level Triad “Short-sighted” (Simon Loui Yu-Yeung in a performance with even more eye rolling, grimacing and maniacal grinning than this actor usually delivers) a thug who oozes corruption and filth. Faced with a choice of recruitment by Short-sighted or a fatal beating, they get away in a very lame scene in which on of our heroes gets the drop on Short-sighted and escapes by holding a fork to his to his throat.

By this point there is no reason to continue watching “Street of Fury”--but then Teresa Mak sashays into a gang clubhouse and we are riveted. She is playing Shan who is sexy, a bit scatter-brained, tough as can be and completely self confident. The contrast between Mak and the rest of the cast is startling, something like Constantin Stanislavski dropping to take a supporting role at a community theater. Shan doesn’t seem to be written with any more depth or truth than any of the other characters but Mak grabs hold of what is there and becomes the center of the movie from that point on, even when she is not on screen. When the scene switches to a mobster who is looking for Shan and who tasks Short-sighted to find her we realize that there is finally a character that we care about, someone whose fate interests us

There is a lot wrong with “Street of Fury”. It is derivative and worse than the movie it was based on; Yee could be used as a template for how not to write for a female character; the fight choreography and cinematography is beyond bad. The only reason to watch it is the electrifying star turn by Teresa Mak and in this case that is enough. Starting at the 48 minute mark I would recommend it highly. Watching from the beginning gets a lukewarm recommendation
Reviewer Score: 5