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Rules of the Game
Year: 1999  
Director: Steve Cheng Wai-Man  
Producer: Ng Chi-Hung  
Writer: Nam Yin  
Action: Ma Yuk-Sing  
Cast: Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Kristy Yeung Kung-Yu, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Edmond So Chi-Wai, Simon Lui Yu-Yeung, Kelly Chan Pak-Yu, Ng Chi-Hung, Ng Yin-Wah, Ronald Wong Ban, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Ching Siu-Lung, Lam Chi-Sin, Chan Siu-Leung, Law Koon-Lan
The Skinny: A decent cast gets lost in this darker-than-average triad flick that only succeeds at frustrating its audience. Do not confuse this with the Renoir classic!
by Kozo:
    This darker-than-usual triad drama attempts to use its bleakness as a pessimistic examination of triad life. The story concerns David Chow (Louis Koo), who runs a small business with his buddies Edmond So, Sam Lee and Wong Ban. Meanwhile, Edmond’s sister Ann (Kristy Yeung) begins as a neophyte club girl and ends up winning the affections of triad boss Sing (Alex Fong). She resists his advances, but he’s an honorable guy who intends to win her heart honestly. Sadly, that doesn’t stop a fight from breaking out, whereupon Sing cripples Sam for good. 
     David vows revenge, but due to a series of circumstances that exist in these triad movies, it turns out that David must join Sing’s triad to save Edmond from some nasty loan sharks that want Ann as payment. David ends up being a top lieutenant in Sing’s triad, rising to fame and fortune in a rockin’ montage that plays like Young and Dangerous redux. The friends move into a new apartment where they can take care of the paralyzed and vegetable-like Sam in relative comfort.
     Then the kicker hits: David has planned revenge on Sing all along, and he enlists his buddies to help him. Despite being somewhat enamored of David, Ann disagrees with his plan. Then...IT ALL GOES TO HELL! Yes, this is one of those movies that grabs you by the balls and squeezes for about ninety minutes. Everything that can go wrong does, friend must fight friend, sister must oppose brother, and love must be denied in the worst possible way. 
     All of this wrenching melodrama is helped by the presence of some of HK’s more charismatic new stars. Louis Koo has some measure of presence even when playing an eventual heel like David, and Alex Fong turns in his usual solid work. However, Sam Lee is wasted, and it is quite painful watching all manner of atrocities done to the charming Kristy Yeung. The darkness is effective but is such a level of depravity really necessary? Moreover, the whole exercise is submarined by director Steve Cheng, who does a remarkably poor job. The music is awful, too.
    This film isn’t entirely a waste, but it uses absolutely none of its considerable resources to make a better film. It just kind of throws everything out there and expects us to care. Unfortunately, I was really hard pressed to. (Kozo 1999)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of The Hong Kong Movie Database

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