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The Underground Banker
Year: 2004 "This is the greatest day of my life!"
Anthony Wong
Director: Bosco Lam Ling-Tung
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ching Mai, Ho Ka-Kui, Wong Chi-Yeung, Hui Pui, Lawrence Ng Kai-Wah, Dave Lam Jing, William Chu Wai-Lim, Lee Siu-Kei, Jue Gong, Sin Bo Ming
The Skinny: "Bunman" meets "Dr Lamb"! Beneath this anorexic premise lies the archetypal early 1990's Category III film. Neither a classic nor a tasteful experience, but if a dose of sex, violence, and black humour is what you want, then this film just might fit the bill.

David Harris

     Now ten years old, The Underground Banker is one of the seemingly endless number of Category III films that Anthony Wong made at the time. While not scaling the heights—or plumbing the depths—of the legendary The Untold Story, it still has plenty to offer those who have a stomach for this kind of thing. Anything Wong does is worth at least one watch in my book—the fact that I like U-Man proves that I'm a hardcore fan. I'm not joking, by the way; I genuinely do like U-Man.
     The aforementioned Mr. Wong stars as Ming (nicknamed Marshmallow), a regular truck driving guy who seems obsessed with the fact that "Dr. Lamb" (played here by Lawrence Ng) lives next door to the new family home. That is, until his wife Kitty (Ching Mai) loses a load of money on the stock market courtesy of ex-boyfriend Canner (Karel Wong Chi-Yeung). Kitty ends up working as a prostitute to pay off the loan that Canner arranged for her with his brother Chao (William Ho Ka-Kui), the loan shark of the film's title. Kitty is also forced to play a part in helping Chao kidnap Ming's sister Chi Kwan.
     Ming becomes aware of their plight only after a fellow trucker comes to the family home for a meal, and reveals afterwards that he's been one of Kitty's clients. Ming's subsequent unsuccessful attempts to help his wife result in Chao's band of merry villains setting fire to their flat. Kitty dies in the blaze, and their son Tak gets badly burnt before being saved by the friendly neighbourhood lunatic next door. This sends Ming over the edge, and he and his creepy neighbour lay waste to each and every one of the bad guys. It's during this final reel that Anthony Wong and Lawrence Ng, respectively, break out blatant Bunman and Dr. Lamb impersonations.
     If the description of the plot sounds somewhat bald, it's because there isn't really any more to it than that. The Underground Banker is not a film you have to watch a few times to fully appreciate; once is enough. Or, in the case of those who demand a little more from their entertainment, once is more than enough. Personally, I'll watch just about anything with Anthony Wong (see earlier U-Man confession for proof), but The Underground Banker is far from the best of its kind and pretty much deserves a place in the lower ranks of Wong Chau-Sang's considerable repertoire. The film's biggest drawback is its uneven nature. The first half is comparatively light, while the abuse of Kitty by Canner heralds the arrival of a wildly different second half. The performances are not all bad (Lawrence Ng is fun as the creepy neighbour), but it's the script that is at fault; it simply doesn't give the actors and actresses enough to work with. The Underground Banker isn't a film of great note, though with the pseudo Bunman/Dr. Lamb duo it could almost be considered Hong Kong's equivalent of Freddy vs. Jason. (David Harris 2004)


image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser

 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen