Friday, July 22, 2016

Movie Review: Blood Brothers (Tian tang kou)

Blood Brothers (Tian tang kou) 
CMC Entertainment, Sil-Metropole Organisation, Lion Rock Productions, China Film Co-Production Corporation, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, 2007.
Blood Brothers (Tian tang kou) title
In 1930s China Ah Fung (Daniel Wu) and his friends Kang (Ye Liu) and Kang's little brother Hu (Tony Yo-ning Yang) decide to go to Shanghai after better life. Fung is naive, Kang is tough and overly ambitious and Hu has a soft-heart and wants to go home. 
Daniel Wu and Xiaolu Li
Ah Fung and Su Zhen
Ye Liu, Tony Yo-ning Yang amd Daniel Wu
Kang, Hu and Fung
In Shanghai the life is not rosy and they end up in low paid jobs. One night Fung saves the life of hitman Mark (Chen Chang) who tried to assassinate his boss Hong but failed and remained incognito. Fung's romance with village girl Su Zhen (Xiaolu Li) goes to back seat when he meets a nightclub singer Lulu (Qi Shu). Gowever Lulu wants to be a famous actor and there she needs Triad-boss Hong's (Honglei Sun) support. Also Lulu and Mark have a secret affair. The boys get involved in Hong's gun smuggling operation. 
Qi Shu
Honglei Sun
Chen Chang
Mob scheming and betrayals follow. The more the boys sink into the mob world the more strained their brothership becomes. Their loyalties are divided with tragic consequences. Eventually it is a time for vengeance!
Jie Gao
Rival mob boss Chen (Jie Gao)
The story is kind of remake of John Woo's "Bullet in the Head" minus the war scenes. It is not bad but pales in comparison to the original brutally emotional story. The costumes and sets look expensive. However the script feels like a collection of weirdly detached scenes as the plot seems to drag while the plot driving scenes seem to jump ahead without much explanation. The boys rise in the mob ranks in no time, things happen making the otherwise simple plot hard difficult to follow. Also the atempt to sentimentality does not work well as the characters are left very shallow. The action scenes are okay for a gangster film but lack the raw energy of Woo's original. Also without the political allegories of the original, it feels disappointingly bland and middle-of-the-road gangster drama. It is a pity as the cast, and production values are great.

Produced by Terence Chang and John Woo.

Rating: Average 

Starring: Daniel Wu, Ye Liu, Qi Shu, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Xiaolu Li (as Lulu Li), Honglei Sun, Chen Chang, Jun Zhao, Dian Lun Zhang, Jie Gao, Yong Xin Gui, Li Qiu Zhang, Ren Yuen Wu, Xiao Hu Ding, Xiang Hu, Zheng Zheng, Yi Heng Shao, Zhen Ying Yao, Young Fu Fan, Zhiyong Zhang, Jing Sun, Jing Ni Luo, Yin Wen Pu, Zhao Li, Wen Jia Ji, Min Gui, Duoduo Qian, Lin Ma, Yi-Ching Lu, Jiaolong Sun, Hai Ruo Wu, Chen Yang, Yu Hua Wang, Jian Hua Song, Renee Yuan (as Xin-yu Yuan)
Director: Alexi Tan

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