The Young and Dangerous Series and the people behind it: Young and Dangerous 5 - 1998
Young and Dangerous 5 (1998) is a slightly superior entry in the series after the below par Young & Dangerous 4 (1997). Although Young and Dangerous 4 was still a worthy addition to the series, it did look as if things were starting to wear thin.
Luckily Young and Dangerous 5 takes a more mature viewpoint to gangster life, with our characters getting involved in more business dealings instead of fighting in the streets. Still there are still violent confrontations involved with the usual double crosses and backstabbing going on.
I’m not saying that this entry is totally successful. Even though the film makers try taking a more adult point of view with their tale, there are still a number of plot holes and implausibility’s during the course of the film. There is certainly one main issue with the film which I will get to later.
The plot this time involves the usual fight for control of Causeway Bay between the Hung Hing and Tung Sing gangs. Chan Ho Nam (Ekin Cheng) ends up having to go head to head with another Ho Nam, Szeto Ho Nam (Mark Cheng), who unbeknownst to Chan is working in league with a corrupt Malaysian businessman (Paul Chun).
During this Chan Ho Nam also garners the attention of new love interest Mei Ling, played by an enthusiastic Shu Qi. So things aren’t all bad for the usually sullen Chan Ho Nam. One main reason for his depression could be down to the absence of best friend Chicken, with usual co-star Jordan Chan missing this entry out altogether.
In Chan’s place is the dependable Chin Kar Lok as ex Triad member Big Head who is brought back into the fold to represent the Hung Hing gang in a kick boxing match. Considering a good deal of time is focused on training for the kickboxing match, it is surprising that it is over so quickly.
The series main director Andrew Lau is once again behind the camera, doing his usual solid work. By this point in the series Lau is going through the motions and could probably direct a Young and Dangerous film in his sleep.
Lau could never be called lazy, as this was the first of three films that he had out within the same year. He would follow up Young and Dangerous 5 with one of the best entries in the series, Young and Dangerous: The Prequel (1998) before moving into the realm of big budget (for Hong Kong films at least) fantasy film making with Storm Riders (1998), which once again had him working alongside usual leading man Ekin Cheng.
In regards to Ekin Cheng, he does his usual solid work as Chan Ho Nam, although there is more focus on him this time round due to the absence of the series’ best actor Jordan Chan. Cheng may not be one of Hong Kong’s best actors, but it is hard to see anyone else in the role of Chan Ho Nam, something that became more apparent with the remake Young and Dangerous: Reloaded (2013).
The only issue the film has in regards to Chan Ho Nam is that the relationship between him and Chicken is such an integral part of the series, that once it is removed there is a noticeable hole that unfortunately can’t be filled no matter how good the remainder of the supporting cast are.
The usual faces that form the remainder of the Hung Hing gang are also back, such as Jerry Lamb, and Jason Chu as well as other returning cast members Anthony Wong and Sandra Ng. As usual the members of the Hung Hing gang that aren’t called Chan Ho Nam don’t get nearly enough screen time, with Sandra Ng and Anthony Wong faring only slightly better, although they at least have more interesting characters to play.
In regards to Sandra Ng, she at least had the spin off Portland Street Blues (1998) which was released in the same year, with her character Sister 13 being the primary focus. The same courtesy would be afforded to Anthony Wong who the following year would headline The Legendary Tai Fei (1999).
Jordan Chan wasn’t the only missing cast member from previous entries, as Karen Mok and Spencer Lam are sadly absent this time. It is not surprising as both Mok’s character of Wasabi and Lam’s Father Lam main interactions were with Chicken.
There are a number of new cast members in this entry, which help liven up proceedings. Although he doesn’t erase the memory of the missing Jordan Chan, Chin Kar Lok is a welcome addition as Big Head, Chin gives a better performance than expected and with his martial arts background handles his small action scenes well.
As well as playing Big Head, Chin Kar Lok also doubled up as action director on the film. This isn’t new for him as this is a job he had been carrying out for many years.
Chin Kar Lok started out in the Hong Kong film business from the early age of 16. At the tail end of the 1970’s he found himself working as a stuntman on a number of television shows. Hong Kong film work followed, with him mainly working behind the scenes as a stuntman and bit part player on films such as The 82 Tenants (1982), Fast Fingers (1983), which starred his brother Chin Siu Ho and Project A (1983), which found him working with both Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, collaborations that would continue throughout his career.
In 1983 he joined the Sammo Hung Stuntmen Association, which has held him in good stead for the remainder of both his acting and stuntman career.
After working behind the scenes on further Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung productions like Wheels on Meals (1984) and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985), Chin was promoted to co-star status on Heart of Dragon (1985), playing one of Jackie Chan’s SWAT team friends. Although his screen time was limited, it was still a significant role at that point in his career.
In matter of fact the majority of the films he made with both Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan would turn out to be supporting roles, with him showing up as a thug, gang member or similar in Dragons Forever (1987), Eastern Condors (1987) and Paper Marriage (1988).
In the same year he would work as action director on Yuen Kwai’s directorial offering In the Blood (1988). Working with fellow action directors Yuen Wah and Mang Hoi, In the Blood turned out be quite a lacklustre affair, especially considering the pedigree of those behind the camera. The film also had the star power of Andy Lau as the films lead. It also found Chin working with his brother Chin Siu Ho.
Also released in 1988 was the Hong Kong noir On The Run (1988), an exceptional thriller starring Yuen Biao and Pat Ha. Although it doesn’t feature much in the way of Yuen Biao’s usual martial arts action, there are still a good deal of violent action scenes which were choreographed again by Chin Kar Lok and Yuen Wah with the added assistance of the Sammo Hung Stuntmen Association. Copies of On the Run can be hard to come by these days, but any fans of Hong Kong cinema owe it to themselves to try and track it down.
As well as working with Andy Lau on In the Blood, Chin would find himself sharing the screen with him in comedy thriller Three Against the World (1988), although in a smaller supporting role. Not the greatest Hong Kong film, but it does feature some exciting action scenes and cameo roles from the likes of Yuen Woo Ping, Wu Man, Shing Fui On and Chung Fat.
Chin would finally get a more substantial role in Mr Vampire Saga 4 (1988) with him essentially playing the same role his brother Chin Siu Ho had played in the original Mr Vampire (1985). Although regular star of the series Lam Ching Ying doesn’t appear, this is probably the best of the sequels, with enough vampire hopping action to keep fans of the series happy.
Further work with both Yuen Wah and Yuen Biao was to follow in the next year, with Chin being one of many action directors on the fantasy adventure Iceman Cometh (1989). Playing like a mash up of fish out of water comedy and the Hollywood movie Highlander (1986), Iceman Cometh is one of Yuen Biao’s best starring vehicles, with excellent action scenes and a great visual style from director Clarence Fok.
Moving into the 1990’s, Chin would work once again with Mr Vampire Saga 4 director Ricky Lau, this time behind the scenes as action director on supernatural comedy Till Death Shall We Start (1990). Working alongside action directors Cho Wing and Yuen Miu, Till Death Shall We Start isn’t exactly the best showcase of their talent, focusing more on comedy than action. The film is still worthwhile for a typically great performance from Richard Ng.
More successful would be Chin’s work on Bury Me High (1991), which gave him a rare leading role. Playing the famous role of Wisely, played previously by his brother in The Seventh Curse (1986), Chin equips himself well in the film, especially in the exciting action scenes. The best of these has him going up against Yuen Wah.
Visually Bury Me High is great, with high production values and excellent cinematography by Peter Pau. The main let down is the silly plot and the fact that previous Wisely films like The Seventh Curse and The Legend of Wisely (1987) had more of a sense of fun.
He would round out the year with a supporting role in the trashy The Tantana (1991), directed by Mang Hoi. Sharing the screen with Sammo Hung, it becomes apparent during the film why it isn’t better remembered.
In terms of acting appearances, 1992 would be quite the busy year for Chin Car Lok, with him appearing in no less than 9 films, although one of these just reused footage from another film. The most notable of these are Hero Dream (1992), an extremely sleazy Category 3 action thriller. Like a great deal of exploitation cinema there is a good deal of unnecessary nudity and sex scenes that help in some-way covering up a paper thin plot. At some points the sex scenes are bordering on pornography.
What makes Hero Dream stand out is the fact that it starred both Chin Kar Lok and Chin Siu Ho together in the lead roles. Both brothers work well together, with one starring as a cop and the other as a criminal. This gives each of them an excuse to fight the other in some well choreographed action.
Operation Scorpio (1992), would prove to be a better showcase for Chin’s talent. Harking back to old school martial arts film of the 1970’s, Operation Scorpio has excellent fight scenes throughout, not surprising considering the film had the talents of Liu Chia-Liang, Yuen Tak and Yuen Kwai working as fight choreographers. It also has the added bonus of being directed by David Lai, who the year before had helmed Saviour of the Soul (1991). He gives Operation Scorpio the same sleek look that he gave that film, although tones down much of that films cartoony style.
Chin would follow up these starring roles with a good deal of supporting parts. He can be spotted in Once Upon a Time in China IV (1993), The Avenging Quartet (1993) and the classic Drunken Master 2 (1994). He would go on to another supporting role, this time in Derek Yee’s award winning Full Throttle (1995). For once Chin was cast for his acting and not in an action capacity.
The following year he would co-star alongside Simon Yam in true life crime drama King of Robbery (1996). Loosely based on the life of real life criminal Yip Kai Foon, who used to use an AK-47 in his robberies, King of Robbery boasts a great lead performance from Simon Yam as the crazed criminal. As well as Chin Kar Lok having a co-starring role he was also the action director on the film.
Although his starring roles in movies had dried up, Chin was still being cast in supporting turns, with a good deal of them having him also direct the action. He may only play a nameless robber in Task Force (1997), but he also choreographed the various action scenes, in what is one of the best Hong Kong films of the late 1990’s.
Continuing to work as an action director, he would work on what was director Dante Lam’s first film, Option Zero (1997). Made in a similar in style to Gordon Chan’s earlier Final Option (1994) and its inferior prequel First Option (1996), Option Zero is saved by some excellent action sequences and a great supporting performance from Anthony Wong.
In the same year he also worked alongside two legends, Lau Ching Wan and Francis Ng on Ringo Lam’s Full Alert (1997), a return to form for the director after his Hollywood debut Maximum Risk (1996) the year previous.
As well as his acting work, Chin went on to direct his first film at this time with 97 Aces Go Places (1997). Made as an attempt to reboot the successful Aces go Places series, the film unfortunately is an in name only sequel and doesn’t feature either Sam Hui or Karl Maka from the original series. In their place are Alan Tam and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, who fail to live up to their predecessors. There is some fun to be had, but expectation should be lowered. At least Chin directs the action in the film well, although he has done better elsewhere.
As mentioned earlier he would begin his association with the Young and Dangerous series in 1998. He would return as Big Head in the final part of the main series, Born to be King (2000).
After this he would work again with director Andrew Lau, on the fantasy film Avenging Fist (2001), although this is quite a few steps beneath his talents. More worthwhile was Hit Team (2001), which reteamed him with Option Zero director Dante Lam. Made in the same vein as Option Zero, Hit Team may be one of director Dante Lam’s lesser films but is still an enjoyable crime thriller.
Following on from 97 Aces Go Places, Chin would have another crack at directing, this time with comedy sequel No Problem 2 (2002). Although it would star assorted Hong Kong actors like Yuen Biao, Sam Lee, Eric Tsang and Collin Chou amongst others, No Problem 2 is actually a Japanese production. Like the first film, it also employed a Hong Kong director.
No Problem 2 has its heart in the right place. It may not be the best film around, but its multiple parodies of Hong Kong cinema make it fun for most Hong Kong cinema fans. The one major drawback is that the action isn’t up to par with any of the stars Hong Kong work, although it can be entertaining.
Chin would return to Hong Kong cinema with a good deal of worthwhile supporting roles. Amongst the best of these are martial arts drama Star Runner (2003). Not even close to being called a good film, what makes it worthwhile is the energetic action scenes, also choreographed by Chin Kar Lok and small appearances from Hong Kong legends David Chiang, Gordon Liu and Ti Lung.
The next year he would co-star in Derek Yee’s terrific crime drama One Nite in Mongkok (2004). For a change, Chin gets an actual character to work with, playing a Hong Kong police officer on the hunt for Daniel Wu’s Mainland hit man. As well as Wu and Chin, One Nite in Mongkok features excellent performances from Cecelia Cheung, Lam Suet and Alex Fong.
Additionally, Chin Kar Lok worked on the film as action director, although most of the action on screen is limited with One Nite in Mongkok being primarily a crime thriller. As well as One Nite in Mongkok, Chin Kar Lok would co-star with Alex Fong in the straight to video thriller Cop Unbowed (2004) which came out in the same year.
For the remainder of the decade it would be mostly small roles Chin would star in such as Crazy in the City (2005), Dancing Lion (2007) and Murder (2009), an unintentionally funny serial killer thriller from director Roy Chow, with Chin co-starring and working as action director.
He would work again with One Nite in Mongkok director Derek Yee on Shinjiku Incident (2009), once again working as both action director and supporting actor. Headlined by a rare dramatic turn from superstar Jackie Chan, Shinjiku Incident makes for an interesting drama but it unfortunately pales in comparison with Derek Yee’s earlier One Nite in Mongkok and his previous directorial effort Protégé (2007), which Chin Kar Lok had also worked on in a smaller capacity.
Moving into the new decade, Chin Kar Lok would find himself working with Zero Option and Hit Team director Dante Lam on both of his films of 2010. Both Fire of Conscience (2010) and The Stool Pigeon (2010), feature some of Chin Kar Lok’s best action direction at that time. The Stool Pigeon is decidedly the better of the two but both are worthwhile crime thrillers.
He also directed the fight sequences in the underrated Bruce Lee: My Brother (2010), making lead actor Aarif Lee look like an accomplished martial artist.
Work with director Derek Yee was to continue into the new decade, although this time it was only working behind the camera, directing the action for Triple Tap (2010), a loose sequel to the much superior Double Tap (2010). Compared to earlier Derek Yee movies, it is hard to view Triple Tap as anything other than a failure, with a plodding storyline, boring characters and a sure shortage of action, which is unforgivable in a film about professional gunmen.
In between working with Dante Lam yet again on his explosive action movie, The Viral Factor (2012), Chin Kar Lok found time to work alongside the legendary Sammo Hung on My Kingdom (2011).The film may have ended up a disappointment, but Sammo Hung and Chin Kar Lok both construct a number of well choreographed fight scenes that helps the film slightly overcome its many flaws.
2012 proved to be quite a busy year for Chin in terms of action directing. As well as the afore mentioned Viral Factor, he also worked on I Love Hong Kong 2012 (2012), Motorway (2012) and Cold War (2012), with him having a co-starring role in the latter.
From these he went on to be action director on Kenneth Bi’s Sci-Fi themed Control (2013) as well as action blockbuster Firestorm (2013), which was filled wall to the wall with explosive action.
More recently he has worked under Cold War directors Sunny Luk and Longman Leung, once again directing the action scenes, in Helios (2015). Not as well received as Cold War, Helios is still an exciting action thriller, with great production values, decent performances and some great action scenes. The major drawback of the film is that like Cold War, it feels the need to set up a sequel instead of being a more standalone thriller.
Bringing us up to date, Chin Kar Lok still continues to work both in front of and behind the camera, having a small role in supernatural thriller Keeper of Darkness (2015) and working as action director on Buddy Cops (2016), Line Walker: The Movie (2016) and Cold War 2 (2016).
As well as the addition of Chin Kar Lok to the Young & Dangerous franchise, Chan Ho Nam gets a new love interest in the shape of Shu Qi, who adds some much needed levity to the film with her enthusiastic performance. He may get involved in gang fights and brood a lot, but considering that Chan Ho Nam has went with Gigi Lai, Michelle Reis and Shu Qi during the series, it just goes to prove what a lucky bastard he is.
Starring as the cheery Tang Mei-Ling, Shu Qi makes an impression, especially considering that she is essentially playing a throw away love interest role. Ironically, out of the majority of actors involved in the series, Shu Qi is one of the actors that has went on to gain the most critical acclaim, and not just in Hong Kong.
By the time Young and Dangerous 5 came round, Shu Qi had already built up quite the resume. She had first made waves years before by posing nude in the Chinese edition of Playboy magazine.
This brought her to the attention of Hong Kong film producer Manfred Wong, who is also the main writer on the Young and Dangerous series. Wong would become Shu Qi’s manager and was responsible for her first proper film role in Street Angels (1996), which was produced by Wong and Andrew Lau as a cash in on their own Young and Dangerous series. In addition there were early film roles in a number of Category 3 films, the most famous of these being Sex and Zen 2 (1996).
In the same year she also co-starred in Viva Erotica (1996), which may have been stamped with the Category 3 label, but is actually a great drama from director Derek Yee about the Category 3 film industry. There is of course more low brow work in the same year, with Till Do Us Laugh (1996), being a prime example. Unsurprisingly this comes from the Wong Jing stable and has both Manfred Wong and Andrew Lau on board as producers.
She would then co-star in two films from director Shu Kei, A Queer Story (1997) and Love, Amoeba Style (1997), with neither of them being noteworthy other than moving Shu Qi further away from Category 3 fare.
Having previously worked with director Derek Yee on Viva Erotica, Shu Qi would co-star in his production of My Dad is a Jerk! (1997), directed by Joe Cheung. In addition is her supporting role in director Riley Yip’s Love is not a Game, but a Joke (1997), with her walking away with the films acting honours.
1998 would be a busy year for the actress. As well as co-starring in Young and Dangerous 5, she would also co-star in another two entries of the series in the same year. Both Portland Street Blues and Young and Dangerous: The Prequel feature Shu Qi, but as a different character each time.
Continuing to work with director Andrew Lau, Shu Qi co-starred alongside Ekin Cheng yet again, this time in action fantasy Storm Riders (1998). Her role in the dramatic Bishonen (1998) would go onto play a major part in Shu Qi’s personal life as this is where she met future husband Stephen Fung. The film also proved to be worth her time, with her giving another winning performance in a film that unlike other Hong Kong movies, takes a realistic view of homosexuality.
Not all of her films in this year were as well made as Bishonen or her work with director Andrew Lau. There is the brainless action film Extreme Crisis (1998), an attempt by director Bruce Law to emulate Hollywood blockbusters. The film was clearly expensive and has no shortage of action. The main issue is everything else that accompanies the action, with a paper thin plot, non-existent characters and considering Bruce Law’s experience, is poorly directed. To date this is Bruce Law’s only directing credit.
Only slightly better is Allen Lam and Ching Siu Tung’s Blacksheep Affair (1998), a modern set action movie starring Chiu Man Cheuk. Like Extreme Crisis, the film has some excellent action scenes and decent production values, but everything else is sub-par.
The film was released in the U.S. as Another Meltdown, an attempt to cash in on their renamed version of Jet Li’s High Risk (1996), which was released as Meltdown for some reason. What makes this strange is that not only do both films have nothing to do with each other, but that the original High Risk was a Wong Jing action comedy, whereas The Blacksheep Affair is a downbeat action thriller.
The next year would be more productive for the actress, with her co-starring with Jackie Chan in Gorgeous (1999), Chan’s attempt at a romantic comedy. Although lacking in action compared to other Chan films, there is still two great fight scenes during the film. The remainder is based around Chan romancing Shu Qi. The two share good chemistry, with the age gap never really being an issue. There is also a hilarious supporting turn from Tony Leung Chiu Wai.
Like her co-star from Young and Dangerous 5, Chin kar Lok, she would go on to act for director Dante Lam. Unlike Option Zero, When I Look Upon the Stars (1999) was a total left turn for the director, with the film being a romantic comedy and featuring another great performance from Shu Qi.
After working with him on multiple occasions including Young and Dangerous 5, Young and Dangerous 5 and Storm Riders, Shu Qi would once again work under director Andrew Lau. A Man Called Hero (1999), like the earlier Storm Riders is an action fantasy. Like Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero is an exciting genre film but doesn’t do much to stretch the acting muscles of Shu Qi, with her having quite an underwritten role.
Shu Qi would go on to work for Love is not a Game, But a Joke director Riley Yip again, this time in Triad drama Metade Fumaca (1999). Playing the object of desire of an aging gangster, played by Eric Tsang, Metade Fumaca doesn’t exactly feature Qi’s finest performance, as she is mainly shown in flashbacks. Still Metade Fumaca has an excellent lead performance from Eric Tsang and support from an equally good Nicolas Tse. In addition there are supporting turns from the always terrific Sandra Ng, Stephen Fung, Anthony Wong and Chan Wai Man.
Closer to the bottom of the barrel was the action comedy My Loving Trouble 7, from producer Manfred Wong. Directed by James Yuen and starring Patrick Tam, My Loving Trouble 7 is an overly silly escapade that pretty much wastes the talents of those involved. Shu Qi no doubt got involved in the production through her association with Manfred Wong.
At the turn of the decade, she once again graced the Young and Dangerous series with her presence, co-starring in Born to be King (2000). She has comparatively less screen time than part 5, with it feeling as if her character is missing from a large chunk of the film.
Even with limited screen time, Born to King was at least memorable. In the same year she would co-star with Ekin Cheng again in For Bad Boys Only (2000), a terrible action comedy that would be a low point in mostly everyone involved’ career.
Only slightly better is Martial Angels (2001), which involves a bevy of beauties, but is seriously lacking in mostly every other department, with poor performances, badly shot action and an equally poor script. Even the usually energetic Shu Qi seems bored.
Made in the same vein as Martial Angels but more successful was Yuen Kwai’s So Close (2002). Like Martial Angels, it too has beautiful woman as the leads. The plot is the usual Hong Kong silliness, but the film is saved by Kwai’s excellent handling of the action and the film taking a surprising violent turn at the halfway mark. The film also has the advantage of Japanese actor Yasuaki Kurata as one of the films main antagonists, with his fight between co-stars Karen Mok and Vicki Zhao being a definite highlight.
Although So Close would never win any awards, it still stands heads and shoulders above The Wesley’s Mysterious File (2002) which would become one of the poorest outings of Shu Qi’ career. Having the star power of Andy Lau, Rosamund Kwan and Shu Qi herself is not enough to save the film, with director Andrew Lau seemingly forgetting everything that made his other films so successful.
So Close wouldn’t be the only Yuen Kwai film of 2002 that Shu Qi would star in. With The Transporter (2002), Shu Qi would finally make her Western debut. Although her role amounts to nothing more than a damsel in distress, it helped to open her up to a new international audience.
Even though The Transporter was a considerable success, Shu Qi would return to Hong Kong. In the following year she would headline Looking for Mr Perfect (2003), a more light hearted film from director Ringo Lam. Not reaching the heights of Lam’s best work, the film is still an enjoyable ride, with Shu Qi being her usual likeable self. In support is a typically great bad guy turn from Simon Yam and Andy On getting a chance to make up for his role in Black Mask 2: City of Masks (2002).
As well as starring the mainland-Hong Kong production of drama The Foliage (2004), Shu Qi would dip her toe into the horror genre, being the lead in the Pang Brothers The Eye 2 (2004).Despite solid work from her in the lead role, The Eye 2 is another un-needed sequel to an excellent original. There are still some excellent sequences, with the Pang brother building up the tension well, but the film pales in comparison to the superior original.
Shu Qi would follow up these mainstream films with art house fare Three Times (2005), from director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Although it could infuriate less tolerant viewers, Three Times features beautiful camera work and features great performances from Shu Qi and Chang Chen. It is a better showcase of Shu Qi’s acting abilities than the lightweight Seoul Raiders (2005) from the same year.
Fans of the Eye 2 should have been happy with Shu Qi’s return to the horror genre, this time in director Soi Cheang Pou-Soi’s Home Sweet Home (2005). Featuring a great performance from Karena Lam with ample backup from Shu Qi, Home Sweet Home can be an effective horror film which is let down slightly by how undeniably bleak the film is.
Director Andrew Lau would once again employ her services, giving her a co-starring role in the unfairly maligned Confession of Pain (2006). Coming from the same team that made Infernal Affairs (2002), the film was unfairly judged as not living up to that films high benchmark, instead of being judged on its own merits. Saying that, Shu Qi’s character seems to be only there to give the film some added star power, with her character being surplus to requirements.
In the same year as Confession of Pain, Shu Qi would end up headlining a Korean production, My Wife is a Gangster 3 (2006). At the finale My Wife is a Gangster 2 (2003), Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi was seen briefly, ready to go head to head with main star Shin Eun-kyung.
When the third part in the series was announced, it was reported to be a standalone event based around a Chinese actress. It was assumed that this would be Zhang Ziyi, hence why she was introduced in the previous film. This was not to be, with Shu Qi playing a completely new character, with the film having no links to the other entries other than its title.
Although enjoyable, it is still the weakest of the three films, with Shu Qi’s enjoyable performance making up for a good deal of the films shortcomings. As well as Shu Qi, My Wife is a Gangster 3 features a supporting role for Hong Kong cinema legend Ti Lung, although his screen time is shamefully brief. The same is true of his fellow Hong Kong actor Ken Lo, who fares only slightly better than Lung.
Moving on, Shu Qi would yet again share the screen with frequent co-star Ekin Cheng. This time it was for supernatural thriller Forest of Death (2007), which also saw her working again with director Danny Pang, one half of the directing team that brought us The Eye 2 (2004). It may not be as good as the Pang Brothers better work, but the film has some crazy ideas that make it enjoyable. It is by far a better experience than the Pang Brothers Hollywood debut The Messengers (2007), which was on overly serious bore. At least this has Ekin Cheng talking to plants to liven the mood.
Rounding out the decade, Shu Qi went on to have co-starring roles in various genre’s, some more successful than others. There would be director Alexei Tan’s Blood Brothers (2007), which would turn out to be a rather subdued remake of John Woo’s Bullet to the Head (1990). Beautifully shot, the film ultimately disappoints due to the coldness of the characters and the serious lack of action, for what is essentially a heroic bloodshed film.
She would have a better showcase for her acting talents in director Feng Xiaogang’s If You are the One (2008), a romantic drama that co-starred the director. Continuing in the romance genre was Looking for a Star (2009), which had her working under director Andrew Lau yet again. Not the best example of Hong cinema, but Looking for a Star is still an enjoyably silly Lunar New Year comedy.
Moving into the new decade, there would be further work with Andrew Lau. This time it would be the more serious, but still silly, Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010), a semi-sequel to the Bruce Lee classic Fist of Fury (1972). Andrew Lau gives the film an overall stylish look, but the script for the film is sadly lacking.
Still, the action scenes choreographed by the movies star Donnie Yen are the films saving grace, done more in the style of his work on Dragon Tiger Gate (2006) than the more popular S.P.L (2005). Shu Qi as well as Anthony Wong feature in supporting roles but don’t get much to do, with this being strictly a Donnie Yen show.
The script may have been slightly lacking in Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, but the action helped paper over this aspect. Sadly the same can’t be said about director Benny Chan’s City Under Siege (2010). A rare misstep for the director, with him attempting to incorporate multiple genre’s into the one film, with none of them complimenting the other.
Arron Kwok gives an extremely silly performance as the films main hero, although it is apt for the film, with co star Collin Chou seemingly competing in the overacting stakes. Shu Qi fares slightly better, although this is far beneath her best work. At least she would have If You are the One 2 (2010) to fall back on. It may be an unnecessary sequel but utilised her better than either Legend of the Fist or City Under Siege.
Although her previous film with Andrew Lau didn’t exactly get her to stretch her acting muscles, there next collaboration A Beautiful Life (2011) at least gave her more to work for. Unfortunately it has only a fraction of the enjoyment of their earlier work, with the film taking an unneeded political slant. The always terrific Liu Ye is able to salvage the film from the doldrums, with an award worthy performance that deserves to be in a better film.
Lately Shu Qi has varied her roles, co-starring in lightweight fare like the star studded Love (2012), playing a dual role in the thriller The Second Woman (2012) and then as the female lead in Chow Sing Chi’s smash hit Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013).
Most recently Shu Qi had a co-starring role in Jiang Wen’s Gone with the Bullets (2014) that may alienate some viewers, but is so well made that it is hard not to recommend. After this Shu Qi went on to reteam with Three director Hou Hsiao-Hsien on his art house wuxia The Assassin (2015). Less patient viewers should be warned that The Assassin isn’t a typical martial arts film, moving at a stately pace with little action, although fans of the director will be pleased.
More mainstream is romantic comedy All You Need is Love (2015), which turned out better than expected considering it is the work of two directors and eight writers, with Shu Qi and leading man Richie Ren amongst them.
Still in the mainstream is the fantasy action film Mojin: The Lost Legend (2015), an Indiana Jones style adventure which paired her with Alloys Chen and mainland star Huang Bo. Not exactly giving her a tasking role, the film still manages to be a lot of fun, with Shu Qi looking terrific throughout.
As well as Chin Kar Lok and Shu Qi, the film also has a great bad guy turn from Mark Cheng. A veteran of the Hong Kong industry with a career spanning over 3 decades, Cheng has appeared in around 120 films since the early 1980’s. I have written about him in other articles, and to go into his career here would only drag this article out. I will write about him in more detail at a later date.
Cheng makes an impression as the other Ho Nam of the film, overcoming an underwritten and one note villain role. Interestingly Cheng’s real life name is Cheng Ho Nam, similar to his character in Young and Dangerous 5.
Including the main additions to the cast is the always welcome Danny Lee, playing his obligatory good cop role. His screen time is sadly limited, with his character not really adding much to the overall plot. At least it kept Danny Lee in the public eye at the time.
Series stalwart Manfred Wong is once again on producing and writing duties. The script is a good deal better than part 4, although there is still the issue of the missing Chicken character who Wong usually gave the best material to. Wong tries to overcome this with the introduction of new memorable characters and is mostly successful, although it has to be said that the film is slightly lacking in comparison to the original three films of the series.
As mentioned in regards to Mark Cheng, the villain is slightly underwritten, as well as some of the less significant roles. Luckily the film has actors with the skill to make characters appear better than they are written.
Chin Kar Lok isn’t the sole action director on Young and Dangerous 5. Carrying on from the previous entry in the series, Nicky Li is once again behind the camera to choreograph the action. I went into some length previously how good an action director Li can be, and that the Young and Dangerous series isn’t really a true showing of his talents.
Although the action in the film isn’t bad, considering that it has both Nicky Li and Chin Kar Lok working on it, you would expect more. I suppose that by this point in the series the action style had been set, so to change it would be too jarring.