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The Young and Dangerous Series and the people behind it: Young and Dangerous 3 - 1996

Darren Murray
The Young and Dangerous Series and the people behind it: Young and Dangerous 3 - 1996

There will be spoilers within, so if you haven’t seen Young and Dangerous 3 yet, I would advise watching it before reading this.

Coming hot on the heels of Young and Dangerous 2, the third entry in the series turns out to be one of the best and clears up some of the unresolved issues from the previous movie.

The film begins a number of weeks after Young and Dangerous 2, with Ho Nam (Ekin Cheng) now branch leader of the Causeway Bay branch of the Hung Hing. Chicken (Jordan Chan) is also re-instated into the Hung Hing after his exploits with the Taiwanese Triads Sun Luen in the previous film. During this time, rival Triad gang Tung Sing are making a name for themselves. Led by Camel Lok (Chan Wai-Man), they start to encroach into Hung Hing’s area of business, opening bars and nightclubs.

Hung Hing also have to deal with Crow (Roy Cheung), an increasingly unhinged member of the Tung Sing, who has taken it upon himself to destroy not only Hung Hing but also the life of Chan Ho Nam. Through him the threat of a gang war only escalates.

Throw in Smartie (Gigi Lai) waking up from her coma, but with amnesia and also the introduction of Wasabi(Karen Mok), the daughter of Father Lam, it is safe to say that Young and Dangerous 3 turns out to be quite an eventful entry in the series.

The storyline is somewhat similar to the first film, with Chan Ho Nam being set up for a crime he didn’t commit, although Young and Dangerous 3 turns out to be the bleakest entry of the main series. There are a number of popular characters that don’t make it to the end of the film, and the film climaxes in one of the series most violent finale’s, with multiple beatings and stabbings, with one character even being set on fire.

The start of the film is initially slow, taking a while to get to the main plot of the film and being more interested in character development. The film may initially seem plot-less at first, but don’t let this put you off, as the early scenes go into a bit more depth than other films what being a Triad entails.

Like all the entries in the main series, the film is directed by Andrew Lau, with him also serving as the films cinematographer. By now he has the style of the series pretty much set in stone, with only the hand held camera use being a bit less frenetic than previously. It wouldn’t be long until Andrew Lau would be moving into the big leagues with the blockbuster Storm Riders (1998). It is a shame that he hasn’t returned to the smaller scale pleasures of Young and Dangerous, with the closest he has come being the sadly lacklustre Revenge of the Green Dragons (2014).

The principal cast all return, with a couple of new additions. By now Ekin Cheng has became more than comfortable in his role of Chan Ho Nam, with Jordan Chan always giving able support as his best pal Chicken. The rest of the Hung Hing boys also return, but as usual are giving short thrift in comparison to the film’s two leads. Anthony Wong is also back as Tai Fei in a slightly underwritten part, but anytime Wong appears on screen its welcome. Also backing the team up is Blackie Ko, returning from the previous film.

Gigi Lai gets to do a bit more this time round, than she had in the sequel. The majority of the film her character has amnesia, so she gets to play a different facet of what the audience had come to expect from the Smartie character. Unfortunately her character doesn’t make it out of the film alive, with her death being one of the most shocking events in any of the films. Only the sudden finale of Those Were the Days (2000) comes close. Lai would return to the series four years later in the final entry in the series, Born to Be King (2000), although she would be playing a different character this time, although her resemblance to Smartie plays into a plot point of the film.

Young and Dangerous 3 would also be the last part of the series to feature Simon Yam in the role of Chairman Chiang Tin Sung, with his murder being a major catalyst for what happens to Chan Ho Nam and his gang during the remainder of the film.

Of the new additions, the most memorable would be Roy Cheung as Tung Sing member Crow. Crow turns out to be the series most crazed villain, with Francis Ng’s Ugly Kwan appearing quite sane in comparison. Unlike Ng, he is also physically imposing, proving to be a proper physical threat to Chan Ho Nam. Not only is he willing to kill Hung Hing Triad members, he is quite willing to kill his own boss and also women, mainly the poor Smartie.

Even though Cheung’s character comes to a violent end, this didn’t end his association with the series, with him appearing in two other entries as different characters.

Fans of Hong Kong cinema will no doubt recognise Roy Cheung from his many villainous roles. Even when playing a supposedly good guy, such as a police officer, he usually turns out to be scum. Now and again he gets to play a rare good guy role, although most of the time they are still morally suspect.

Cheung started his film career in the mid 1980’s. Initially appearing in a few small parts such as Rose (1986), alongside future superstars Chow Yun Fat and Maggie Cheung, it wouldn’t be until his first team up with director Ringo Lam on City on Fire (1987), that parts would become more prolific. He would continue his association with Ringo Lam throughout the remainder of the 1980’s, next starring as the sadistic prison guard Hung in Prison on Fire (1987), then on to the extremely bleak School on Fire (1988). He would spoof his role in School on Fire by starring in the Chow Sing Chi comedy Fight Back to School (1991), which is loosely based on School on Fire.

His last main role for Lam was the somewhat lighter Wild Search (1989), although he does have a brief cameo at the finale of Prison on Fire 2 (1991). #

Young and Dangerous 3 wasn’t the first time that Cheung had worked with director Andrew Lau. They had previously worked together on the underrated To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui (1994), which also had Cheung playing a decent guy for a change. Although still a gang boss, his character Hung Tai is unlike his other roles, with Hung Tai being loyal both to his men and his sister. To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui would also be produced by Wong Jing who Cheung would work with a number of times throughout his career.

Cheung would continue to work with Andrew Lau, playing a role in his SDU drama Best of the Best (1996), as well as starring in Young and Dangerous 4 (1997) and the final part of the main series, Born to Be King (2000). Between these, he also played a small role in the fantasy Storm Riders.

A year after Born to Be King, he would act make a small appearance in the sci-fi curio The Avenging Fist (2001). A loose adaptation of the Tekken video game, the film unfortunately wastes the talents of established martial artists Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung, and also the talents of co-director Yuen Kwai whose work here seems quite restrained due to the overuse of under-par CGI.

Staying in the Sci-Fi genre and working alongside superstars Andy Lau, Shu Qi and Rosamund Kwan, Cheung would co-star in the so bad its good sci-fi The Wesley’s Mysterious File (2002). In comparison to the other films he worked on with Andrew Lau, even including The Avenging Fist, this is definitely one to leave of the C.V., although there is still fun to be had with it.

A year later he would have a small role in Infernal Affairs 2 (2003), although he doesn’t really get a great deal to do. This would be the last Andrew Lau film to date that Cheung would appear in.

Another film of note would be Once Upon a Time in Triad Society 2 (1996), which is not only noteworthy for Cheung playing a righteous character again but being a spin-off of a Spin-off, as the first film Once Upon a Time in Triad Society (1996)  featured Francis Ng in his role of Ugly Kwan from the Young and Dangerous series. Ng returned for the in name only sequel, playing a different character, with the film mainly being a pastiche of the Triad genre.

He would also play a similar role to the one he played in To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui in Gordon Chan and Dante Lam’s excellent Beast Cops (1998). He would work again with director Dante Lam on the crime comedy Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone (2000). Jiang Hu: The Triad Zone is full of excellent performances and should really be as well known as the director’s earlier Beast Cops.

During this time he would play a supporting role in one of his more highly regarded films, at least in the West. Johnnie To’s The Mission (1999), once gain gave Cheung to play a good guy, even if he is once again a gangster. Acting alongside Francis Ng, Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Jackie Liu and Anthony Wong, The Mission is one of Cheung’s best of that period, and would be followed up a number of years later by the thematic sequel Exiled (2006), starring the majority of the same cast.

Sadly quite a lot of Roy Cheung’s films during his career have been quite poor, and well beneath his considerable talents. For every Beast Cops and The Mission, there’s a MAFIA.COM (2000) and a Super Car Criminals (2000) not far behind them.

Luckily he has enough good roles in his C.V. to outweigh the bad, which isn’t unusual for any Hong Kong film actor. Of late, his film roles have become less and less, making the odd appearance in films like the historical epic The Assassins (2012) alongside Chow Yun Fat, or in the terrible Angel Warriors (2013), which really should be forgotten.

The main new addition to the series is the terrific Karen Mok. Injecting some much needed humour into proceedings, Mok shares a good deal of her scenes with Jordan Chan’s Chicken, and they are undoubtedly one of the highlights of the film.

Mok has acted in over 50 films throughout her film career. Starting in the early 1990’s with small roles in films such as The Tigers – The Legend of Canton (1993), it would only be a number of years before she would break out, with Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels (1995), which she won best supporting actress for at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

She would then go on to further success acting alongside comedy superstar Chow Sing Chi in A Chinese Odyssey Part One – Pandora’s Box (1995) and its sequel a Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella (1995). She would continue to act alongside Chow Sing Chi in his other smash hits Out of the Dark (1995), The God of Cookery (1996), Lawyer,Lawyer (1997), King of Comedy (1999) and a smaller role in the smash hit Shaolin Soccer (2001).

As well as acting in Young and Dangerous 3 for Andrew Lau she also acted in his SDU drama Best of the Best (1996) before returning to the Young and Dangerous series with Young and Dangerous 4 (1997). Young and Dangerous 4 would mark Mok’s last appearance in the series although during this time she acted in the female centred rip-off Sexy and Dangerous (1996), produced by Wong Jing as well as working again with Ekin Cheng on Jingle Ma’s Goodbye Mr Cool (2001), which is somewhat inspired by the Young and Dangerous series.

After this Mok chose to stay in action mode, acting alongside Shu Qi and Zhou Wei in Yuen Kwai’s fun action movie So Close (2002). In the same year she would also act with Jordan Chan in the okay ghost story Haunted Office (2002). She would then act in a number of various genre films, some of the best of these being Stephen Fung’s Enter the Phoenix (2004). Credit must go to Stephen Fung for making a film about a gay man and not making it about the usual stereotypes. The only let down is the wire assisted action, while excellently done, doesn’t fit the style of film it’s in.

She would follow Enter the Phoenix up with her first Hollywood feature, the extremely underrated Around the World in Eighty Days (2004). Dismissed at the time of its release as being just another disappointing Hollywood Jackie Chan movie, Around the World in Eighty Days has a lot to recommend. Although it makes a mockery of the original story, Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan work well together and the films action scenes are all inventive and certainly better than other martial arts films coming from Hollywood at the time. Not only this, for a Hollywood production there is a lot of Hong Kong movie talent involved. As well as featuring Karen Mok (credited as Karen Joy Morris) in a rare villainous role, the film also features appearances by Maggie Q, Sammo Hung, Ken Lo and Daniel Wu not to mention Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The following year she would act in Teddy Chen’s Wait ‘Til You’re Older (2005), which would turn out to be one of Mok’s best performances, with her character coming across as unsympathetic but ultimately relatable.

The remainder of the 2000’s she would put in various dramatic performances, most notably alongside Anthony Wong in Mr Cinema (2007) and also would act in the Thai horror film The Coffin (2008).

More recently Mok starred in Jeff Lau’s updated version of The Eagle Shooting Heroes, the crazy East Meets West (2011) and also Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut Man of Tai Chi (2013), although her role in the film was decidedly limited.

As well as her film career, Mok has also etched out a career as a successful recording artist, with 16 albums to her credit, one of which is even recorded in English. She has gained many music awards throughout her singing career.

Another actor worth mentioning is the legendary Chan Wai-Man as Camel Lok. Unfortunately he doesn’t get as much screen time, with his character being pushed into the background whenever Roy Cheung is around.

His role in Young and Dangerous 3 is nothing new to Chan, with him making numerous Triad films throughout his long career. Chan has since admitted that he was actually a Triad member himself. Originally he worked as a police officer throughout the prison system, which enabled him to come into contact with numerous criminal types. By doing this he ended up joining the Triads. Unfortunately the police don’t look too fondly on one of their own being a Triad member, so he ended up being sacked.

As well as this he also had a career as a boxer and kick boxer, winning a number of championships in Southeast Asia. This would help in his film career with the amount of fight scenes he would end up in.

Starting his film career at the start of the 1970’s and appearing in smaller roles in such classics as All Men Are Brothers (1975). One of his best starring roles is the early effort from director Kirk Wong, The Club (1981), which has sadly been forgotten due to more famous gangster films emerging in the 1980’s such as John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1986) and Ringo Lam’s City On Fire (1987). The Club is a more realistic affair than what Hong Kong gangster films became in the 1980’s, and shouldn't be missed if given a chance to see it.

He would appear in a number of famous Hong Kong action movies throughout the 1980’s, most of the time being a supporting player. Some of his better films in the 1980’s is Wong Jing’s excellent Mercenaries from Hong Kong (1982) and Jackie Chan’s Dragon Lord (1982). He would go on to work with Jackie Chan again on Project A 2 (1987), playing his usual gangster role.

During these years he would also make a small appearance in Ronny Yu’s classic Heroic Bloodshed movie Legacy of Rage (1986), working with the then up and comers Michael Wong and the sadly departed Brandon Lee.

He would also work with Wong Jing on Lee Rock 1 & 2 (1991), which Wong Jing produced. Once again he would play the role of a gangster. The films also had him again working with Andy Lau whom he had worked with two years year previously, co-starring with him in Bloody Brotherhood (1989) before going on to work together on Gangland Odyssey (1990). Gangland Odyssey turned out to an enjoyable Triad action film with Chan in the lead, supported by the always dependable Alex Man with a smaller role for Andy Lau. The film is also notable as being the only film to be directed by Chan.

He would continue to share the screen with Andy Lau on various occasions with smaller roles in Benny Chan’s What a Hero! (1992), Clarence Fok’s Gun n’ Rose (1992) and Wong Jing’s a True Mob Story (1998).

As well as appearing in Young and Dangerous 3, he would return to the role of Camel Lok in Young and Dangerous: The Prequel (1998), as well as appear in the spin off Once Upon a Time in Triad Society, although he would play a different character from the main series .

Moving into the 2000’s, Chan has kept himself busy, with his cameo in the drama Metade Fumaca (2000) being one of the highlights, spoofing on his old gangster image alongside the brilliant Eric Tsang and Nicholas Tse.

He would again work with Wong Jing in a small role for his spy spoof The Spy Dad (2003), which is one of Jing’s lesser efforts. The next year he would play a part in the already mentioned Enter the Eagles, once again having fun with his gangster movie image.

More recently Chan has been appearing in less films than usual, although he had a small role in the Shaw Brothers throwback Gallants (2010). Directed by Clement Cheng and Derek Kwok, any fans of old style martial arts films should give Gallants a go. As well as Chan Wai-Man also look out for performances by Chen Kuan-tai, Teddy Robin Kwan, Lo Mang and Leung Siu-lung.

As well as Gallants Chan worked well alongside Anthony Wong and Charlene Choi in the enjoyable Triad comedy Gangster Payday (2014). Most recently he had a supporting role in the China production of the poorly titled Super Bodyguard (2016), which also features performances by the excellent Xing Yu and the equally great Collin Chou. To be honest they deserve better.

Once again Manfred Wong returns as sole producer and also writes the screenplay. Young and Dangerous 3 is probably the best script that he had created for the main series, although the script was co-written this time by Chau Ting.

Chau Ting’s writing career goes back to the late 1980’s, working as a script supervisor on Ringo Lam’s Wild Search (1989). Lam must have been happy with her work as they would work again the following year on Rebel from China (1990), with Ting scripting from a story created by Ringo Lam. One other interesting factor of the film is a rare lead performance from famous Hong Kong director John Woo.

She would work again with Ringo Lam, co-writing with Nam Yin the underrated Touch and Go (1991), featuring a more serious role for leading man Sammo Hung. Chau Ting would work again with writer Nam Yin on the same years My Flying Wife (1991), another Sammo Hung vehicle, although quite inferior compared to Touch and Go.

As well as her high profile work, during this time she would also write a few Category 3 exploitation films such as The Rapist Beckons (1992), Can’t Stop My Crazy Love for You (1993) and Ebola Syndrome (1996) amongst them. Only The Rapist Beckons could be considered poor, with the other two films having their definite pleasures, and actually feature some of Chau Ting's best work. Ebola Syndrome was also produced by Wong Jing who she would go on to co-write War of the Underworld (1996) with.

For a large part of her writing career she would work with Manfred Wong as a co-writer. As well as Young and Dangerous 3 she would work on Best of the Best, Young and Dangerous 5 (1998), Young and Dangerous: The Prequel, The Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero (1999) and Born to Be King. Co-incidentally all of these films were directed by Andrew Law.

Chau Ting’s last movie credit was for the horror movie The Ghost Inside (2005), one of director Herman Yau’s lesser films.

Lastly, Young and Dangerous 3 actually features slightly more action than the previous entry, with the bone crunching finale being a definite highlight. Dion Lam once again returns as action director and although the series has never been the most action heavy, there is enough featured in the third entry of the series to keep fans happy.

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Andrew LauAnthony WongEkin ChengGigi LaiHong KongJordan ChanKaren MokManfred WongRoy CheungSimon YamTriadYoung and Dangerous

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