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yF (1985)
Hong Kong Godfather


Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/18/2010
Summary: Sending Shaw out with a bang...

Johnny Wang’s second directorial effort hearkens back to the blood-drenched brotherhood Shaw epics of Chang Cheh. Mad Wei (Lau Kar-Leung) is a former triad enforcer that has retired from the crime world and runs a plant nursery. When he meets back with his old friends Playboy Lung (Norman Chu) and Sergeant Man (Richard Cheung) for his former boss’s party, he gets embroiled in a power play for control of Tsim Sha Tsui East. Jiaxi Lan (Wong Chun), who ran a gang in New York’s Chinatown, has decided to make a run at Boss Han (Sek Kin) and take control one of the most important areas of Kowloon. He gets one of Han’s top men to become a mole in the organization and then systematically works to undermine and dismantle Han’s gang. When the stakes are raised and senseless killings begins, the trio of Wei, Lung and Man decide loyalty is greater than life itself and go on the warpath for revenge.
In some ways, Hong Kong Godfather feels like an episode of Miami Vice set in Kowloon. It reeks of 80s style, but in a good way. The budget looks cheap, but it adds to the flavor. The violence is so over-the-top in parts that you can’t help but laugh and not take it too seriously. There is gratuitous nudity as well... Wang was definitely pulling out all the stops in the sleaze arena. He also does the action choreography, which is absolutely top-notch. There is one part where I’m 99% sure a stunt man actually gets hit by a car at full speed. I had to rewind the film a couple of times just to check - it looks ultra-painful. The “kung fu” choreography is also excellent, totally different because it involves old-school gang weapons... simply bats, iron bars and machetes. There is also the infamous back-breaker window toss, but I don’t want to ruin that for anyone that hasn’t seen it. The finale is one of the most bloody spectacles you’ll ever witness in a Hong Kong film. They must have spent half the budget on fake blood, and it’s all for the best. Wang’s action choreography also shines in the finale, with people flying every direction into the cheapest office furniture known to man. It’s exciting, brutal and loads of fun. Are you going to get the best plot and acting in this film? No, but you’ll get one of the most exciting and jaw-dropping action films in the Shaw library.

8.5/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/22/2009

Hong Kong Godfather isn't quite "the greatest Triad movie of all time" that the box cover exclaims it is. But if you're a fan of 1980's hard-boiled Hong Kong gangster movies, then you're going to find a lot to like here, namely "Beardy" Leung Kar-Yan and his buddies kicking a whole bunch of ass in various ultra-violent ways.

Like a lot of the movies in the genre from the era, the plot here is simple. Leung Kar-Yan plays a Triad who gets out of "the game" after the death of his wife to concentrate on raising his daughter. Several years later, there is a power struggle in the gang that results in the dai lo (Sek Kin) being killed by a traitor (Shum Wai). I'm sure you can guess what happens next -- Beardy picks up his chopper and sets out to get revenge.

Hong Kong Godfather suffers from a lot of the pitfalls of 80's gangster movies. There was obviously next to no budget, resulting in the film looking extremely cheap, even by HK industry standards of the time. Also, the film is drenched in 80's cheese. Some might view this as welcome nostalgia, but really, it's hard to take someone seriously as a tough guy when they're sporting a perm/rat-tail combo (which Norman Chu has the unfortunate luck to be stuck with here).

But despite its' problems, Hong Kong Godfather is still a fairly satisfying Triad romp, especially if you're in the mood for some mindless violence. The highlight in that regard is a bit where Sek Kin's grandson gets hit with a backbreaker and then tossed through a plate glass window. It's the sort of off-the-wall and over-the-top thing that only occurs in the world of Hong Kong movies, and is a nice reminder of why fans still like them, even if the industry as a whole is only a shell of what it once was.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Frank Lakatos
Date: 09/28/2005

Hong Kong Godfather(1985) aka Heroes of Tsim Shat Tsui. This movie has to be seen to be believed. This is one of the greatest triad movies of all time, even topping the Long Arm of the Law series or anything a Woo or Lam could have done. Forget about the impossible gun wars that could never happen in Hong Kong, this movie is aboput the chopper, the true way of the triad. The movie is very western like, and there are no awkward moments at all, the cast in incredible and consists of real men(NOT the pop singers and 20 year old steroid fluffies seen in today's triad movies), the action if first class, and the story is remarkable. This scene where Shek Kien and his family are massacred and the the unbelievable finale expose the veiwer to incredible violence and revenge. The music to the action is perfect. The final showdown blows Jackie Chan's Police Story(1985) away in every aspect. The incredible range of emotion from the leads in their prime Leung Kar Yan, Tsui Siu Keung, and ect show is astonishing. Wang Lung wei and unrecognizably western Pomson Shi star as the Eurasian hitmen (they don't even look Chinese!). The stock Shaw scores are chosen and placed perfectly. A masterpiece and the Shaw Brothers last full fleged movie. Only this combination of talent could have been used for this movie and the movie could have been only made in 1985 in order to make it what it is. Wang Lung Wei spent the remainder of his directing career trying to recapture the magic that made this movie what it is, including a cheap remake titled Bloody Brotherhood, staring an out of place Andy Lau and underused Lam Wai to no avail. Wherever Wang Lung Wei went, he tried to bring elements of Hong Kong Godfather into his production. It is a crime that Celestial has ignored remastering and rereleasing this movie. Remastered or not, it's one of the best Hong kong movies, triad or not, ever made. Many Gweilos were used in this movie, which is beyond the norm for Shaw movies, including Paulo Tocha, Wayne Archer. The best and most underated Hong Kong movie ever made. The movie is still unknown as of this time, as the movie's influence still awaits the Hong Kong movie industry. When you finish watching this movie, you'll never look at Hong Kong movies the same again. **************/*****