Young and Dangerous 4
Hong Kong 1997
Directed by Andrew Lau.

Another chapter in the life of the Hung Hing boys. Lots of big groups of people face off against each other without much purpose.

After the near destruction of Hung Hing in Young and Dangerous 3, the boys are celebrating. Ah Yee (Michael Tse) is getting married to his longtime sweetheart, and everyone attends the wedding celebration. He is happy, he is in love, and in triad cinematic tradition, it will of course end in tragedy -- the only question is when and how.

When he goes off to his happy honeymoon in Thailand, the Hung Hing branch leaders are meeting there, too, to try to convince Mr. Chiang (Alex Man), the brother of the former Dragon Head, to join Hung Hing as their new leader. Mr. Chiang is very well off in Thailand, and so needs a bit of convincing from everyone before deciding to join. He wonders aloud if he can run the triad just like a business, to make a strong profit. Of course, he can, after all most big businesses are run like criminal syndicates, surely it can work the other way around.

Thailand seems a strange place for a triad leader to retire. Rather, its a good place to make a living, especially if heroin is your business of choice. But Mr. Chiang firmly states that he doesn't deal in heroin. The Hung Hing do not deal in heroin. That, apparently, is what 'bad' triads do. Good triads like Hung Hing just practice extortion, prostitution, and murder. Branch leader and porn publisher Fai Lai tries to convince Mr. Chiang otherwise, to little effect.

Back in Hong Kong, the branch leader of Tuen Mun, Dinosaur, is brutally killed by Tiger Yiu-Yeung of Tung Sing. Tiger kills Dinosaur in one of Ho Nam's clubs, thus implicating him and trying to set off conflict between different branches of Hung Hing. The confusing thing about all of this is that Tiger is played by Roy Cheung, the very actor who delivered such a strong performance as the villainous Tung Sing gangmember Crow in Young and Dangerous 3. However, Tiger doesn't really make any mention of Crow, and no one else in the film ever says, "Hey, that guy looks just like Crow. Doesn't he?" I can only assume that the Tung Sing gang runs an illegal cloning operation somewhere in Wanchai.

With Dinosaur dead, the Hung Hing council decides the position must be filled immediately, especially since Hung Hing is the only triad in Tuen Mun and they don't want to show weakness for fear that someone else may decide to move in on their turf. For the position of Branch leader, there are two candidates: Ho Nam's right hand man Chicken (Jordan Chan), and Dinosaur's second, Barbarian. Barbarian, as a local, has more support. Even Ho Nam does not strongly support Chicken's nomination, pissing him off to no end. Mr. Chiang decides to resolve the problem by dividing Tuen Mun in half, with each running their part. Whoever does the best may become the branch leader. In fact, it's the same thing his brother came up with in Young and Dangerous 2. Someone should have pointed out that they just went through something like this, but no one mentions it so we have to sit through the same plot again.

But this time it's not Ho Nam trying for the post, but Chicken. And he just doesn't have the righteous smarts of Ho Nam, and before long his contest of the territory leads to rioting, widespread violence, betrayal, and the tragic and pointless death of one of the Hung Hing boys.

Having the plot of Young and Dangerous 2 and the villain from Young and Dangerous 3 does not a memorable sequel make. This episode of the series is at least notable for the introduction of bi-sexual Sister 13 (Sandra Ng), branch leader of Portland Street and brothel madam. Her character and her relationship with branch leader Ben Hoy is so interesting she eventually gets her own spin off, Portland Street Blues. Ho Nam starts a new relationship with a young teacher (Michele Reis), but nothing ever comes of it. Sort of like this film, actually. The resolution left a bitter taste in my mouth. Was all the effort, the violence, the death, worth the outcome? Not really. For the first time, the successes of the Hung Hing boys fall a little flat, and life in triad society loses a bit of its lustre.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 04, 2004.

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