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Gong woo
IMDB Rating: 6.4/10 from votes
Release: 26 May 2004 (Hong Kong) /

Gong woo

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Director: Chi-long To,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: When Triad leader Hung's wife gives birth to a baby boy, Hung considers leaving the world of the gangsters. Despite the fact that he is not sure of his decision, word gets out fast and now, a brutal war begins in the world of "jiang-hu". Two hoodlums, Wing and Turbo, set to make a name for themselves, are ordered to kill Hung. Meanwhile, an internal conflict begins between Hung and his #1 man, Left-Hand. Despite this conflict, the two have nothing but respect for each other. However, they know deep down, that there are people waiting to get rid of Hung. Written by Ninja01

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Critic Reviews


The general consensus among HK cinema followers is that Jiang Hu suffers from this and that, so I expected it to be mediocre. Truth is, it turned out to be the most delightful surprise in many years. Right from the start, the bar scenes are filled with energy and dazzling lighting effects, maximizing the cinematic excitement. The film's retrospective score and set design evoke the old Chinese city which was previous achieved to perfection only by Wong Kar Wai's IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE. Jiang Hu's director seems to have learned more than a few tricks from Kar Wai, from utilizing well-placed retrospective songs to capturing the moment for maximum mood. This is to say, Jiang Hu is an outstanding work of art that captures the essence of triad life-cycle and blood brotherhood.

Watching Jiang Hu is like experiencing the 21th century Chinese update of The Godfather or any number of European and Italian American gangster classics in the 60s/70s. In our jiang hu, Loyalty is at stake. Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung, two of HK's finest, reprise their boss-follower roles from AS TEARS GO BY, complete with Jacky's impulsiveness and Andy's more calm personality. Their pure friendship from years ago is turning pale as Jacky's ambition pull him towards the dark side.

While Jacky favors violence as primary resort, Andy Lau's character is more of a pacifist. I find his peaceful resolution approach representative of Buddhist ideology in some manner. When warned that Jacky may turn against him, Andy responds: "I am not worried. If my death is what it takes to make Jacky realize the meaning of blood brothers, then so be it." Andy has reached the top of the game, where money and fame have lost their meaning. He only wishes to change his old friend for the better before time runs out. But Andy does not shove this idea down Jacky's throat; he shows Jacky the way through demonstrations of sophistication and wit, instead of blood and force. In the end, after leaving his words, Andy walks away from the table. Whether Jacky accepts his invitation to recover their brotherly bonding is up to Jacky.

Some viewers have pointed out the lack of brutality/blood. This ties back to Andy's philosophy that success can be achieved without blood, as he expresses many times in the movie. It is a central theme to the story.

Another criticism is about the two intertwined story lines - some think it's confusing. However, let's not forget this kind of narrative structure is featured prominently in Godfather Part II, considered a classic. In that movie, 2 parallel story lines, involving the present day Michael and previous accounts of Vito Corleone, switch back and forth throughout the movie -- very similar to the style of Jiang Hu. I personally think Jiang Hu's approach is even superior to Coppola's classic, since here the parallelism is much stronger (and perhaps more meaningful).

Jiang Hu is the third masterpiece I saw in 2004 (the other two being GONG FU and 2046), a fairly kind year for HK cinema. The film is a bit showy at times, but above all, Jiang Hu is more than a standard gangster flick; its artistic passion yields a touch of timelessness which I suspect will outendure many genre classics. As I write this review in October 2005, no HK film I have seen this year comes close to exhibiting Jiang Hu's rare quality to honor the integrity of the medium.

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