Triad, the 2012 Hong Kong gangster film directed by Daniel Chan (Young and Dangerous: Reloaded), debuts today on DVD (SLP $24.98) and Digital from Well Go USA. The film centers on three young men and how their lives & friendships are affected by their membership in a triad.
The film begins in 2003 at the funeral of Brother Ming. An anonymous young triad member identifies no less than six figures attending the burial. These include Boss Mun, the triad's godfather; he's also known as the Dragon Head. Patrick (Patrick Tam, Zu Warriors) is Mun's favorite under-boss. Sister Irene (Irene Wan), who built a crime kingdom with her husband, the deceased, is at an equal level to Patrick in the hierarchy. (Note that the first names of almost every one of the main characters corresponds to the first names, in English, of the actors who are playing them. It's also interesting to note that in this introductory scene, we're not introduced to any of the three main characters.)
From the funeral, the film then jumps back in time to 1997, the year that Hong Kong was "handed off" from the British to mainland China. William (young and handsome William Chan, As the Light Goes Out) is a college student. His mother sells oranges from a cart in an open-air market. When some toughs attempt to extort protection money from her, glasses-wearing William comes to her aid and gets soundly thrashed for his trouble. Fortunately, his friend Derek sees what's happened and calls on Patrick to help out, which he does. In this sequence we also meet Edward, who's given to wearing sleeve-less shirts, the third friend of the group.
The film then follows their induction into the triad and the paths their lives take. William, who no longer wears glasses (guess he outgrew the need for them, or maybe he got contacts), specializes in debt collection for various clients, including Mr. Wong, a businessman, and Mr. Ho, a tycoon. William also becomes involved with Michelle (Michelle Wai, Golden Chickensss and Hardcore Comedy), Wong's daughter. After bringing us back up-to-date at the 2003 funeral, the film continues on to 2006, when William, like Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy, aspires to have the gang's enterprises go legit.
Meanwhile there have been conflicts not only between rival gangs, but between factions within the triad to which William, Derek and Edward belong. Two of these conflicts arise over women at nightclubs. Edward comes to the aid of Kathy, who's drink has been spiked by the member of another gang; Edward and Kathy eventually marry and have a son.
William first comes to Michelle's aid when Irene bumps into her at a club. Some of Michelle's drink spills on her and she tosses the remainder at Irene. William and Michelle's romance is of the "on-again, off-again" variety, primarily because his involvement in the triad precludes a commitment to her.
There are some decent fight scenes, courtesy of action choreographer Fai Wong, in which large groups of gang members go at each other. Also a few scenes of individuals getting the crap beat and kicked out of them. But nothing that hasn't been seen before and nothing done in an exceptional way.
And that's pretty much true of the film as a whole. It never really grabbed me. It seemed to be primarily a showcase for some young, good-looking actors and actresses. Nice to look at, but not much substance or depth. Part of the problem may be attributed to the fact that the opening credits list eight (8) "screenplay by" credits. That many scribes is usually a sign of a troubled story-line, and that certainly seems to be the case here.
All-in-all, Triad is an okay film, a slight touch above mediocre, but it definitely falls short of being really good and engrossing. At IMDb, it currently carries a rating of 5.0/10 from 228 users. In this case, the IMDb rating happens to be pretty close to my opinion.
AsianCineFest Rating: 2.0 out of 4 stars; a fair, rather run-of-the-mill film.
- Cantonese 5.1 Dolby Digital
- Cantonese 2.0 Stereo
- "Making of" featurette (approximately 5 minutes)
- Previews (trailers of other Well Go USA offerings)