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  Publicity Stills of "Mob Sister"
(Courtesy from Shaw)

Genre: Drama/Action
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
RunTime: -
Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East
Rating: PG

Released Date: 11 August 2005


In 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?

The only exception to the rule is if you earn your respect as “Ah Sou” - the big boss’ wife.

Mob 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.

Movie Review:

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.

And 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.

But 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.

The 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.

However, 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.

Interesting 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.

This 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.

Movie Rating:

(Boasting a veteran stellar cast, revisit HK triads from a totally different perspective of a teenage girl)

Review by Stefan Shih


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