Starring: Him Law Chung-him, Oscar Leung Lit-wai, Paul Wong Koon-chung, Sammy Shum Chun-hin, Winnie Leung Man-yee
Director: Daniel Chan Yee-hang
Category: IIB and III versions (Cantonese)
Back in 1996, the filmmaking trio of Andrew Lau Wai-keung, Manfred Wong Man-jun and Wong Jing struck cinematic gold with movie adaptations of Cow Man (Ngau Lo)'s Rascals comic books. So popular were the Young and Dangerous films that four were made in that year alone - all featured a then 28-year-old Ekin Cheng Yi-kin in the lead role of "young rascal" Chan Ho-nam.
Now in 2013 comes Young and Dangerous: Reloaded, an unabashedly low brow offering whose main plot and multiple sub-plots will be familiar to those who have viewed the 1990s Y&D movies and their spin-offs. This latest offering is sprinkled too with topical references galore and set in contemporary Hong Kong.
While executive produced by Wong Jing and Manfred Wong (who also has sole scripting credit despite the movie being so all over the place that the story feels like it was cobbled together by multiple writers), this reboot with more comedic moments and bare female breasts than the older Y&D offerings has Triad's Daniel Chan Yee-hang at the helm rather than Lau.
Although lead actor Him Law Chung-him (above, with Winnie Leung Man-yee) is actually 28 years old, his Chan Ho-nam character is described as being just 23 years - like his best buddy, Mountain Chicken (Oscar Leung Lit-wai).
In the violence-filled world of these goo wak jai (triad rascals), even 40-something-year-old triad dai lo (big brothers), such as the righteous Uncle Bee (Paul Wong Koon-chung) and despicable Ugly Kwan (Sammy Shum Chun-hin) appear on the elderly side. But it's actually the older folk who often are the more powerful and dangerous - as Ho-nam and his friends find out after they get involved in a series of disputes and intrigues that threaten their lives and also the unity of the Hung Hing gang they have pledged loyalty to until death.
And while the younger thespians do have considerable screen time in a movie that's chock full of guest appearances and cameos (including by the likes of Denise Ho Wan-sze and Jim Chim Sui-man), it's the older actors who turn in more eye-catching performances. In particular, singer-musician-actor Paul Wong valuably contributes to the film with a charismatic portrayal as well as adrenaline-pumping music, and Sammy Shum's Ugly Kwan elicits the loudest laughs as well as gasps of horror from the audience with whom I viewed the film.
Young and Dangerous: Reloaded opens today