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古惑仔情義篇之洪興十三妹 (1998)
Portland Street Blues

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 02/29/2012
Summary: a must-see movie.

Portland Street Blues [1998] is a must-see movie. Director Raymond Yip is a product of the Wong Jing school of cinema and does real good work with this spin-off from the very popular Young and Dangerous films that ruled the box office during these pre- and post-Handover years. Sandra Ng was made to play this role and it's hard to take your eyes off of her performance. Throw in early good work from Hsu Chi and Kristy Yeung with plenty of other familiar faces from the popular triad films and you have yourself a compelling, fascinating film. Look for rubbery faced Ng Man-Tat though you can't miss him.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 03/13/2010

In this official "Young and Dangerous" spin-off the origins of Sister Thirteen, the largely unelaborated on female triad introduced to audiences in the series' fourth installment, is fleshed out in spite of the preceding offerings' overt male chauvinism.

To the film's credit "Portland Street Blues" avoids merely feminizing one of its predecessors to justify giving the Sister Thirteen character a feature length film. Nor does it take the inside track and simply exploit the triad's gender (or her muddled sexuality for that matter).

"Portland Street Blues" could have been a hip and sexy triad girlz flick a la "Street Angels" (1996).

Thankfully, it is not.

In fact, "Portland Street Blues" has most of everything it needs to exist as a stand alone feature taking narrative paths previously unpaved by writer Manfred Wong and director Andrew Lau whose heavy-hands steered all six "Young and Dangerous" films plus a prequel.

Juxtaposed to its exploitive counterparts director Yip Wai-man and co-writer Patrick Kong have come up with one of series' more favorable entries that features a first in the "Young and Dangerous" universe by sporting a strong female cast with the excellent Sandra Ng reprising her Sister Thirteen role from "Young and Dangerous" parts 4 and 5, an extended cameo by former soft-core queen Shu Qi convincingly portraying an overly abused junkie, in addition to promising newcomer Kristy Yeung.

It's not until the final reel when seemingly by obligation "Portland Street Blues" plugs itself directly into the "Young and Dangerous" series and a number of hindrances we were happy to be getting a break from here begin to rear their ugly heads including but not limited to a cameo by series star Ekin Cheng.

That alone is enough to crack the foundation.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 06/23/2007
Summary: swing out sister...

after chicken, sister thirteen was the most interesting (and criminally under used) character in the 'young and dangerous' films. with andrew lau having moved on to pastures new, after helming seven films in the series, raymond yip takes over the mantle to tell us sister thirteen's story...

sister thirteen (sandra ng) is the only female branch leader of the hung hing triad group, running their affairs on portland street; famous for its sex industry. after a run in with fa-fit (peter ngor), a local rascal who wants to move in on her territory, thirteen heads off for a drink with ben (vincent wan) and, as she's a little drunk, begins to tell him her story.

tat (ng man-tat), thirteen's father, was a low ranking triad with ties to ting sung, but ended up being a member of hung hing; a good soul, but more interested in gambling than anything else. thirteen, or teenie as she was known, is a lively teenager who works scams with her friend, yun (kirsty yang), but soon falls foul of sob (john ching), a sleazy and vicious boss. and so begins thirteen's journey from chancer to branch leader...

sandra ng has always been one of my favourite hong kong actresses and she really gets to show off her range here. from her youthful, cheeky, teenie; in love, having fun, suffering tragedy and searching for her identity, to the bad-ass, lesbian (bi-sexual?), triad boss; she is never less than great and fully deserved the two 'best actress' awards that she received for this role. it is also very interesting to see how her sexuality is dealt with in the film; hong kong film has a bit of a reputation for treating homosexuality with a less than progressive attitude, yet thirteen's sexuality is portrayed with an unexpected depth. sure, she is shown as a bit of a tomboy, but her character is never reduced to a simple stereotype or an object of titliation.

ng man-tat puts in a fine performance, whislt kirsty yang and shu qi (who plays an ex-prostitute, turned heroin addict, and is given a suitably well constructed backstory) provide more than adequate support. also, being a 'young and dangerous' spin-off, we also get a good few cameos; francis and frankie ng, ekin cheng, lee siu-kei, jerry lamb, jason chu all show up.

it's great to see sister thirteen's backstory being given the treatment that it deserves, with a film that is as good (if not better) as any of the 'young and dangerous' series.

good stuff.

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/26/2005

This is a spinoff/prequel of the Young and Dangerous series concentrating on Sister Thirteen (Sandra Ng) and the things that caused her to become a Triad, starting with the death of her father at the hands of a gang. Sister Thirteen is one of the most unique -- and underwritten -- characters in the Y&D series, so the premise of this movie is pretty interesting. It's also exceuted well, catapulted through great performnces by Ng and (more suprisingly) Hsu Chi. I'm not normally a fan of her work, but her performance as a heroin addict who provides Thirteen's way into Hung Hing is really good. The movie is a great addition to the series, but also stands alone well, since there are so few non-exploitative stories about women gangsters done anywhere in the world.

[review from]

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/29/2005
Summary: Love in the time of triads

“Love is simple. I love you, you love me. In between there is cheating, hatred and revenge.” This is the view of the world of the emotionally and physically crushed Scarface and sums up this movie quite well. Love—filial, sexual, platonic, brotherly, just about any type of love—is dangerous and often leads to despair, pain and violent death. “Portland Street Blues” explores some of the aspects of love, pain and death in Hong Kong’s gang controlled urban wilderness.

The story is very well told. There are flashbacks and a story within a story but the editing and writing are tight so that it never becomes confusing. There are plenty of bad guys—and they are not balanced by good guys. The only positive force in this world is loyalty to one’s triad brothers (and sisters) although the older generation of gangsters is willing to sell, barter or give away their loyalty. Only the new wave of gang members knows how to take care of each other—which gives Raymond Yip a way to wrap up all the loose ends at the climax of the movie and its very rapid denouement.

This is one of the best cast movies I have seen produced anywhere. The three female leads could not be better. Scarface is played by the achingly beautiful Shu Qi. She has had an impossibly hard life—seduced and abandoned by a police officer who aborts their baby by kicking her in the abdomen. Treated at a back alley (or at least suspect) clinic, she becomes addicted to heroin. The cop attacks her whenever he sees her but she remains obsessed with him—Scarface is one very sick girl. The behavior of the cop is on the same level as the worst of the triad bosses—the police are shown as just another gang fighting for control of a section of the city. This is made official when the bosses of the Hung Hing gang target him for assassination since he is controlled by a rival group.

Sister Thirteen is a wonderfully written role, something any actress would love to do. She is vulnerable and tough, soft and hard, willing to kill but hating it. Sandra Ng plays Thirteen perfectly, both as a current crime boss and in flashbacks as a teenager learning how to prosper on the streets but being distracted by falling in love. Ng’s quirky looks serves her very well here but most striking is her ability to connect emotionally with the core of her character. Sister Thirteen starts as a slightly goofy teenager who, with her gorgeous friend Yun, steals money from horny men willing to pay in advance to sleep with Yun. The men are left empty handed and the girls make enough money to pay for an operation for Yun’s mother. She ends up as the toughest of the tough, meting out street justice with a silenced automatic to those who betray her. Sandra Ng makes us believe every twist and turn of her character’s chaotic life.

Yun, Thirteen’s one again, off again, maybe yes, maybe no lesbian lover, is played by Kristy Yang. While Shu Qi does some wonderful scenery chewing and Sandra Ng gives a master class in acting, Kristy Yang underplays everything. She remains loyal to and in love with Thirteen even after Thirteen accuses her of sleeping with the man she loves and of allowing the vicious SOB to kill Thirteen’s father. Kristy has a very expressive face and is able to express emotion by cocking an eye or curling a lip. Sandra Ng makes reference to this when she finally sees her former lover on TV—she is a soap star in Taiwan—and says she has a “camera face”.

A bit after the midpoint of the movie Thirteen says the she is the “luckiest person in the world.” She is safe from the streets of Hong Kong, protected by the man she loves. Her best friend has arrived and they make on odd but sweet family—an obvious contrast to the triad family she has left behind. Once she says this, of course, we know that things will be downhill for her from that point on, which they are.

The evocative score and lush cinematography complete an excellent package.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 11/24/2001
Summary: Not more triad recruitment movies!!

WEll i goto say this is better than the Y&D series, but i feel like this movie was almost like a tv series, since there is so many Y&D movies out there!!

This movie should be titled "The origins of Sister 13." Anyway this movie is exactly what MY title suggests!! Most of the movie looks at Sister 13's life, than jumps to the present where it shows this really is a small world.

They say there is triad influence in all hk movies, but i wonder how the other triad associations feel when Hung Hing is always portrayed better than all other organisations and more honourable? just a thought........


Reviewed by: Yellow Hammer
Date: 05/10/2001

This movie is rated at Category III, I'm not sure why. Sandra Ng won the 1998 Best Actress award for her portrayal as Sister 13, the tough bi-sexual triad head of the Portland Street district of the Hung Hing triad society. Hsu Chi also won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as a drug addict who befriends Sister Thirteen (actually saves her life). Arguably the best of the Young and Dangerous and offspring movies, this movie is a 'biography' of Sister Thirteen first starting out as a triad member, and her relationships with her female and male lovers.

Reviewed by: Siu Hung
Date: 08/19/2000

this is definitely one of the best movies to come out of hong kong these days. although a spinoff of the Y&D series, it is more complicated artistically and emotionally then Y&D. the acting is top-notch of course...without this the movie would not have produce the sensation it has.

sandra ng delivered a powerful and emotional portrayal of a very strong yet vulnerable sister 13. oh and by the way...sister 13 can hardly be called a lesbian...the most important thing in a lesbian relationship is the intimate understanding between the two women...there is nothng in sister 13 that suggest that understanding and she even admits that she doesnt understand a woman's heart...this is the problem a man faces not a lesbian. plus she always sees herself as a man so it's more of a transgendered issue to me. what sister 13 put up is a facade probably for the reason stated by grimes. and if u find the need to label sister 13 then i would say transgendered is the closest...other than that there's no way to clearly catagorize her.

the next great performance was from kristy yang. this is honestly her best work. she adds depth to the story behind sister 13's conversion to lesbianism. and i agree that her last scene in the restaurant w/13 is very intimate and emotional. even though i would love to see the two of them together at the end, i realized that in hong kong this probably wouldn't happen because people are not yet ready to recognize (not stereotypically recognizing) the issues that face the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community. but anyway, bck to the review, kristy yang was good and she should have won for best supporting actress because her role was not a tear jerker kind of role yet produce that empathetic emotion in the audience. shu qi's role is a tearjerker from the beginning and she plays it well but there's no challenge.

the storyline is the next best thing about this movie...well at least the first part is very interesting and gut wrenching. the ending is sort of corny and slips bck into that Y&D type of far as i'm concern pao should have start shooting them as soon as he saw them and ran his freakin' ass off but too bad he didn't do that and that's it for his life.

so, to put an end to all this chattering...yes PSB is still one of the best movies out there today. it's sad that it didn't perform well in the box office, but what else would u expect from an artistically successful film?

Reviewed by: grimes
Date: 04/08/2000

This film is a spinoff/sequel of the extremely popular Young and Dangerous "Triad Boyz" series, featuring "Triad Grrl"
Sandra Ng as Sister Thirteen, the lone female boss in the Hung Hing gang. This film is a significant step up in quality from
the Y&D films, having both a stronger script and a much stronger lead performance than anything Dior Cheng could hope
to muster.

The bulk of the story occurs in flashback, detailing the events that led Sandra Ng to become involved with the Hung Hing
gang. Ng Man-Tat plays her father, a low level lackey in the Hung Hing gang. Kristy Yeung plays Yun, Thirteen's best friend.
Hsu Chi plays a junkie who has been ruined by a policeman affiliated with the Tung Sing gang. She and Thirteen become
friends before Thirteen becomes a triad boss. Alex Fong also has a supporting role as Coke, a member of a rival gang whom
Thirteen befriends before beginning her triad life.

The most interesting plot element for me was Sister Thirteen's 'coming out'. Though she is consistently referred to (and
refers to herself) as a lesbian I think a fairly clear case can be made that she is in fact bisexual. Perhaps her lesbianism is a
necessary facade that she must maintain in order to maintain her position in what is clearly a man's world. Were she to
become 'someone's woman', no doubt her credibility as a triad boss would suffer.

Sandra Ng gives a wonderful performance. She shows both the toughness that allows Sister Thirteen to survive in the triad
world, as well as repressed tenderness and pain. Kristy Yeung is surprisingly good. Having only seen her previously as the
flower vase in The Storm Riders and a small role in Comrades, Almost a Love Story, I was somewhat surprised at the
dimensions she brough to her role, particularly in a touching scene with Sandra Ng late in the film. I also enjoyed Alex Fong
as Coke. His face spoke volumes though his performance was largely worldless. There are no weak performances to be found
in this film, no one who breaks the suspension of disbelief.

This film has received three Hong Kong Film Awards nominations, one each for Sandra Ng (best acress), Kristy Yeung (best
supporting actress), and Hsu Chi (best supporting actress). I am rooting for Sandra in this one, though I haven't seen all the
other nominated performances. Kristy Yeung is probably the most deserving of the supporting actress nominees, though it
seems to me there must have been better performances this past year then those nominated (Nicola Cheung in City of Glass
comes to mind).

The script is intelligently written and stays strong throughout, though the triad machinations and betrayals it portrays have
become a bit predictable and commonplace given the huge body of Hong Kong triad films. Sandra Ng's character is
wonderfully fleshed out, the kind of thing you just don't see often enough in Hong Kong films, particularly a triad flick.

This is one of the more interesting films to come form Hong Kong in a while, and I highly recommend it. The Y&D films have
generated numerous spinoffs and sequels, but this film outshines its progrenitor in all respects.