A Mob Story 人在江湖 (2007) – Hong Kong
Herman Yau is back to what he does best…
Herman Yau has always been a director for realism and while the humane factor of realistic is a matter of questioning, it is almost truism when it comes to blood and gore. Just like every other HK director who has made a name for himself, Yau have a distinctive style and that is being cheap, effective and real. Its been years since some cheap little film about human pork chop that ended up launching the career of Anthony Wong with a Best Actor award, but Yau haven’t lost that flair and his thirst for blood and sex is still very much intact. While his latest flick – A Mob Story isn’t any where near the aforementioned material, Yau is back with his trademark brutal killings and the good news is that the film is actually pretty good. Perhaps the film is aided by some well handled production by the famous director of Infernal Affairs series (Andrew Lau), but credits must be given for Yau to go the route not taken anymore, by going back to the 90s gangster territory. While there are parts that are seemingly unbelievable and highly questionable, the flick somehow works by being cheap and effective in a complimentary manner.
Julian Cheung plays a cold blooded killer in his accomplished cool manner and in the process disintegrate a feather between his connections to the audience. While Cheung is undeniably cool, his character lacks an edge and perhaps that little bit of salt that makes Francis Ng such a good actor. Still, Cheung has always been talented and he does perform quite suitably. As for Cheung Tat Ming is incredibly intense and perhaps almost stole the show over Julian in his glorified supporting role. His facial expressions of lost and tension when he brash a guy who just bedded his chick and combining the cutting edge moments of his finger being chopped off creates a moment of Yau’s cinema magic. It is these sorts of brutal and cheap scenes that elevate Yau into his favourable genre.
Adding to the mix is a hot Taiwanese chick with the name of Ivy Yi who adds layers into her role and while Yau use of the chick to deliver some sort of message about money making people crazy and how all guys seems to be killed by chicks, is more questionable than believable. Ivy performs one of the sexiest strips tense in HK cinema. While if the scene is handled by Wong Jing, the audience will end up being turned off, Yau handles the scene with a certain professional flair that makes him a par better than most within these genres.
All in all, A Mob Story is by no means original, as just a look at the name of the killer “Seven” sounds more Hollywood than Hong Kong, but it doesn’t have to be. Yau have created something worth watching and while the film as a whole may seem tact underdeveloped and the message being a bit outrageous. Ultimately Yau have created a film that is brutal, sexy, gory and real. For that reason alone, it is probably a false excuse to celebrate and in fact its 1:12am right now and Neo is hoping to be able to sign off by 1:13am and so why don’t you just give it a shot… (Neo 2007)
I rate it 8/10