Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 16th November 2012
Releasing in cinemas across Hong Kong from 15th November 2012
Released on DVD across Asia
Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$3,404,117
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The latest Hong Kong film “Triad” is not just disappointing, but surprisingly uneven, flat, uninspiring and mostly all over the place. I am a massive supporter of the local industry, but when a film does not justify the price of admission, I will be bitterly disappointed. I wouldn’t go on to say that I highly anticipated this film, but there is a certain expectation in me that this could have been Johnnie To’s “Election” series, instead director Daniel Yee Heng Chan prefers to take numerous cinematic shortcuts and the result is that “Triad” is far more Wong Jing-like than Johnnie To.
It’s been a while where I walked down the Mong Kok’s Broadway cinema stairs and feeling a film is not worth the price of admission. I am a proud and avid supporter of Hong Kong cinema and have seen and reviewed probably 80% of local productions since 2004. “Triad” does not feel like a film, but rather an unfinished product that got muddled within the editing room. I am not trying to be a pessimist, but I have an absolute dislike for filmmakers who takes cinematic shortcuts to make the film seemingly smart, when the film on a whole is a total disaster. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things in this film, namely Patrick Tam, Irene Wan, Derek Tsang and even Deep Ng, but mostly the film suffers from a lack of script, incoherent storyline, and lack of focus on characters and the shameful casting of William Chan as the lead. On a side note, if you are going to promote the film as a Cat 3 movie, at least have decency to deliver the promise of brutality, blood and violence, but “Triad” contains neither and that’s frankly false marketing.
William Chan headlines the film for the first time in his life and is terribly miscast as an up and coming triad leader and successful businessman. Firstly, Chan looks far too green for the role and being a triad member itself seems rather laughable than convincing. Sure he is a university graduate and an intellectual, but Chan only have one serious face and the rest of his expressions are far less convincing. His chemistry with Michelle Wai (“Girl$”) is questionable at best and hardly affecting, let alone the audience caring about their outcome. Chan showed some promise back in the duo role of womanizer in “Hi Fidelity”, but here he is out of depth and limited by a poor script. Derek Tsang flairs the best of the trio and continues to show promise in a brotherly role. Tsang is a good character actor and made the most out of his limited screen time.
One of the few shining spots comes in the form of the scene stealing Patrick Tam. Tam is now older; more rounded, but still provides a much needed presence in the movie. In fact, whenever his character is on-screen, the movie comes to life; it is a shame that he is often regulated in the background. In fact, I would watch Tam over Chan, given any day of the week. Newcomer Edward Tsui (son of famed Norman Tsui) is not given enough screen time or material to work with, to make his character truly affecting. Tsui has good physical presence, but will need to improve his dialogue delivery to provide a more natural approach. However, he did show a level of intensity in the scene where he sacrifice himself to save Chan. The much missed Irene Wan and Chan Wai Man provides good support and Deep Ng turns in a decent display in a small role.
All in all, “Triad” is a bad movie because, the filmmaker ignores all that is good about the genre and forgotten all the good things that makes a good triad film. It tries to allude to To’s “Election” at times and even pay some nods to the “Young and Dangerous” series, but “Triad” is all over the place, lacks a single line of focus and ultimately it is the unevenness of the film that ruins the experience for the audience. When the audience feels bewildered and amused in supposedly emotional and touching situations, you know that the film has failed to engage the audience in the right way. With the reboot of “Young and Dangerous” hitting our shores in the near future, one can only hope that they take nothing out of the book from the current film. “Triad” is not just a bad movie, but it possesses everything that the local public has stereotyped about local Hong Kong productions, namely bad filmmaking, a terrible script, miscast of leading actors and a totally uneven cinematic experience. (Neo 2012)
I rated it 3.8/10