Stephen Chow gets top
billing in this rather nondescript triad drama. He's Sing, the
son of triad boss Feng (O Chun-Hung), who was recently released
from prison. Feng was a righteous triad who went to the slammer
for his fellows. Now, years later, they still respect him and
rush to hang with their newly released boss. Sadly, there are
nefarious forces at work, namely the newer, younger triads who
carry large cellular phones (it's the early nineties; no Nokias
here) and are disrespectful and generally sour to the old folks.
When Sing's sister falls in with an evil triad from America, the
old school triads join forces to get them out of her life. Unfortunately,
the younger triads live up to their rep: they're generally disrespectful
and act menacingly evil for no real reason. Ultimately, the constant
back-and-forth of punishment and retailiation leads to an explosive
climax. And, not once does Stephen Chow stick his tongue out or
use wacky Cantonese wordplay.
Fans of Stephen Chow comedy had
best steer clear of this triad potboiler. While he's generally
likable, not once does he display any real comic talent. In fact,
most of the time he simply fades into the background while older
actors (Wu Ma, Shing Fui-On, Ng Man-Tat and old school director
Lo Wei) provide all the necessary drama. Sadly, a lot of this
drama involves old guys sitting around tables talking about how
terrible the new generation is. Thankfully, nobody breaks into
a "In my day..." story about walking forty miles to
school in the freezing cold with no shoes, no hat and a backpack.
In fact, the film is melodramatic to a fault, and features sledgehammer
direction from Shum Wai (who also acts in the film). The abundance
of straight-faced emoting and overdone music cues can get annoying.
This stuff was common for HK Cinema of its time, but that doesn't
necessarily make it tolerable.
Thankfully, some bone-crunching
action arrives. The old guys are lucky, because Sing's girlfriend's
brother is played by Billy Chow Bei-Lei. So when things come to
a head, Billy runs into battle and opens up a can of mega whup-ass.
The kung-fu is remarkably painful-looking, and is sure to make
more than a few audience members wince. Thanks to the arrival
of violent punishment, Triad Story becomes a rather enjoyable
piece of early-nineties HK Cinema. By no means does the movie
qualify as an actual honest-to-god good film, but the minor positivessuch
as when Ng Man-Tat goes postal with an axemake this a worthwhile
curiosity. When the tense last half-hour arrives, Triad Story's
first hour of tedium becomes somewhat easy to forgive. (Kozo 2003)