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Young and Dangerous, Part I (Gu huo zi zhi ren zai jiang hu) (1996)

  Directed by: Wai Keung Lau
Written by: Manfred Wong
Starring: Jordan Chan, Ekin Cheng, Gigi Lai, Chi Hung Ng, Francis Ng, Simon Yam
Links: Young and Dangerous, Part I on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Young and Dangerous, Part I (Gu huo zi zhi ren zai jiang hu) (1996) is also mentioned in timchuma's review of Comic King (2001), timchuma's review of To Be No. 1 (1996) and timchuma's review of War of the Underworld (1996).

"Dangerously addictive potatoes" - a review by em_fiction

Young and Dangerous, Part 1 is the first of a long series of manga influenced films (and spin-offs) about crime Hong Kong, circling a gang of four young lads. Nam (rising HK star Ekin Cheng) is the 'main' guy, the leader, the judicious one who keeps the group together. His best friend, Chicken (Jordan Chan) is the opposite — womanising, short-fused and rebellious. Nevertheless, they're still best friends. Being gangsters, the young fellas get to live the high life: nice cars, expensive watches and gorgeous girlfriends. Nam, Chicken and their colleagues also try to up a distinguished reputation with Mr. Chiang (Simon Yam), the president of Hung Hing (the crime society they're apart of), by running errands for branch leader Uncle B (Chi Hung Ng). However, things turn ugly when a seedy, back-stabbing member of Hung Hing named Kwan (Francis Ng) manipulates the society to steal Mr. Chiang's top seat.

The Young and Dangerous series is pretty much the closest you will get to a Hong Kong imitation of Quentin Tarantino. Looking at the stern faces and sharp weapons on the cover, I initially thought that it would be a really serious gangster film, but it's not. In fact, for what is meant to be a gangster film, it doesn't take itself very seriously at all. Rather than being violent, grim and tense like a Martin Scorsese gangster flick, it takes a lighter approach so many of the softer underlying themes can be accompanied. Don't get me wrong, it still has plenty of the usual crime story characteristics — violence, betrayals, deaths, guns, knives, etc. — but it also has an equal balance of focus on the less darker things such as love and friendship.

The cast members are all fantastic — the leads play their characters in a way so you actually care about them. The story, although at times formulaic and clichéd, is mostly solid and engaging. The first half is mainly character introduction, so it's full of fun and lightheartedness, but this wears away in the second half as the tension starts to accumulate and things get more and more dramatic, building towards a great climax and ending. One crappy thing about the film is the really bad 'slow-motion' action sequences; I basically could not tell what was happening and it was even in fact a little nauseating to watch. Luckily, the film isn't based on action.

Judging the Young and Dangerous series as a whole, I have to say that even though it has its ups, it still has its downs. I mean, it could've easily been all good, but when you've got a series that goes on through to a part six (not including prequels and spin-offs), it's kind of difficult to avoid repetition. Nevertheless, it gets pretty affirming watching a group of people, who almost become a family, grow over the course of the series. We watch the leads evolve, reflect and mature as they gradually rise, step by step, up the ranks of the crime ladder. Significant things change between 'episodes' — characters come and go, attachments seal and break, friendships come into question, etc. In a way, it's almost like a soapie.

If you decide to watch them, watch them in order (release order, not chronological). If you enjoy the first one, don't have your hopes up too high for the next instalments (unless you absolutely positively 100% loved it to death). If I were to pick the one that conveys the main gist of the whole series the best, the first one would probably be it. Some good engrossing gangster fun happening here.

em_fiction gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 31 Jan 2004

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Reader comments

  1. this movie is aightt

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Gooks on Fri 12 Nov 2004 09:46 #

  2. good movie

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from lost on Wed 15 Feb 2006 14:44 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (2 ratings)

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