Film review: Mr Six – Chinese director Feng Xiaogang stars as gangster

Guan Hu’s stylish, elegiac crime drama about the struggles between an ageing crime boss and young thugs offers a glimpse into China’s generational divide

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 January, 2016, 1:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 January, 2016, 11:14am

In Mr Six, an ailing, retired gangster returns to the fray after a group of rich-kid punks kidnap his teenage son. Feng Xiaogang, the blockbuster director of The Banquet, Aftershock and If You Are the One, steps in front of the camera to play the anti-hero, venting the frustrations of his generation in the process.

Kris Wu plays the leader of the posse of wannabe gangsters, infatuated by Western values, sports cars and designer fashion, all bankrolled by their affluent parents. Mr Six (Feng), conversely, lives by a more traditional, perhaps forgotten code of honour these punks have violated many times over.

When his son Bobby (Li Yifeng) hits on the wrong girl, events soon escalate and spiral out of control. But Six can’t possibly pay the exorbitant sums Bobby’s captors are demanding, so instead he rallies his old crew, including the excellent Zhang Hanyu, with an eye to settling the matter old school.

Takeshi Kitano released a lighter spin on similar subject matter last year with his comedy Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen. By comparison, Cow director Guan Hu pitches Mr Six somewhere closer to Eastwood’s Unforgiven, and the results are equally stylish, elegiac and impressive.

Mr Six opens on January 21