Director: Wong Ching Po
Starring: Annie Liu, Karena Lam, Eric Tsang,
Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Liu Ye, Alex Fong, Tse Kwan Ho, Yuen
Wah, Law Chung Him, Liu Kai Chi
Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East
Released Date: 11 August 2005
the triad world, hugely dominated by men, where heroes are
molded from blood, brawn and brains, are there any place to
accommodate a defenseless girl?
exception to the rule is if you earn your respect as “Ah
Sou” - the big boss’ wife.
Sister tells the extraordinary story of an innocent girl who
was appointed successor to Hong Kong’s ruling triad.
This role becomes a double-edged sword for our young heroine,
who is sucked into a maelstrom of vicious gang wars, hair-raising
assassination attempts, ruthless power struggles and betrayals.
Through numerous violent episodes and unexpected reversals,
she discovers her own inner strength and re-writes the laws
of the triad.
The opening credits, with its beautiful field of pop up flowers
and saccharine sweet soundtrack, didn't offer a hint to the
measured mayhem that this gangland film touched upon. After
the previous film Jiang Hu (2004), Director Wong Ching Po
journeys again into the realm of the Hong Kong Underworld
with Mob Sister.
what's a gangster film without the usual exploration of themes
like Family, Loyalty, Brotherhood, and with a poster vaguely
resembling Da Vinci's The Last Supper, themes of Betrayal
and Religion as well? Taking a cue loosely from Francis Ford
Coppola's all time classic Godfather, the premise of the film
centers around an innocent teenage girl (Annie Liu) whose
adopted father (Eric Tsang) is the head of the triads. But
when she's suddenly thrust
into the hot seat with minimal respect from rival gangs, her
simple life turns topsy turvy as she
struggles to understand the unwritten gang laws.
she isn't alone though, with her father's trusted lieutenants
played by Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, and Alex Fong. Early in
the film, we are told of her background in a series of flashbacks,
as well as the psuedo-family like relationship between them.
But does "blood" run thicker than water, especially
when a power vacuum is created, and up for grabs? And with
a teenager as the protagonist, you can be sure of subplots
like romance and puppy-love between her and
her bodyguard, and with a "boy with the red cap",
both of which somehow were glossed over without much development.
stellar cast featured are awesome in their roles, and newcomers
like lead protagonist Annie Liu are able to hold their own
against veterans like Tsang, Wong and Yam. Some of my favourite
scenes include those with minimal dialogue, just the stars
filling up space in Kodak worthy moments, oozing menacing
street attitude. Karena Lam's role as a revenge seeking
female triad boss was a bit wasted with its one dimensional
purpose, while Yuen Wah's role as a
retired gangster turned temple monk was a surprising scene
stealer - the temple/religion offers a sanctuary for triad
members, and some of the dialogue in the temple are powerful
and at times, zen-like.
the narrative, while superb in the building up, was at times
choppy and lacked during the closure. Perhaps the length of
the movie (clocking in at approximately 90 minutes) didn't
allow for greater in-depth explanation during the closing
stages. Scenes like the car crashing scene, while creatively
standing in for tried-and-tested gangland fistfights, didn't
transition too well into the storyline, and therefore didn't
really fit into the scheme of things.
delivery methods like the use of pencil sketch animation did
attempt to liven up the
narrative, as with the use of juxtaposed timelines and flashbacks,
however these methods drew attention to themselves, focusing
a tad too much on technical delivery rather than on the story
and characters. And some jokes didn't come across properly
given this Cantonese film is dubbed in Mandarin - the voice
for Annie Liu will take some time to get used to.
is a tragic story of gangs and power struggles, great build
up with awesome potential, which was unfortunately let down
by a weaker than expected ending.
a veteran stellar cast, revisit HK triads from a totally different
perspective of a teenage girl)
by Stefan Shih