Flaming Brothers (1987)
Reviewed by: dragyn on 2001-03-04
Summary: Better Than You Might Expect
When I ordered "Flaming Brothers" from Movie Mail, I really expected it to be BAD. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be an entertaining movie, with a good storyline and clean, beautiful cinematography. That's not to say it's great, by any means - just entertaining, and there are several faults in it.

The plot is simple: Ah Tien (Chow Yun-Fat) and Alan (Alan Tang) play two young brothers who do everything together - they are inseperable. When they reach adulthood, they even become arms-dealers together. But finally, both men fall in love; the two women they fall for become a wedge between them, and their friendship is really put to the test. Many people have claimed that the relationship between Ah Tien and Alan is supposed to be homosexual; personally, I don't think it was intended to be. Instead, I think the director was attmepting to create a "male-bonding" storyline much like some of John Woo's films, but handled the subject matter with less subtlety.

This is a formula plot, sure enough. Unfortunately, no real originality is injected into the cliched story, either; there is even a strong sense of the whole thing being very plot-driven, rather than character-driven.

The biggest fault the movie makes in my view is to pile tragedy on top of tragedy, until when the real tragedy arrives at the end of the movie, it has no real impact left. In other words, the body of the movie stales the otherwise effective ending.

The movie is also incredibly unoriginal, both in cinematography and direction, and in story and themes. There are themes of brotherhood and loyalty and honour that greater directors such as John Woo have used countless times to greater effect; there is slo-mo used that is a Woo staple. In short - "Flaming Brothers" is not a fresh film.

Action scenes are also few and far-between, and the director does not seem very confident when filming a shoot-out; he seems poised unsteadily between the ultra-realist appraoch of Ringo Lam, and the stylised approach of John Woo, employing both effects clumsily in various parts of the movie.

Although not a very fresh movie, "Flaming Brothers" is still entertaining. I rate it: 6/10