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Who's Next
Chinese: 葬禮[渣]Fit人 Jordan Chan in Who's Next
Jordan Chan hams it up in Who's Next
Year: 2007
Director: Chung Kai-Cheong
Producer: Chung Kai-Cheong


Chung Kai-Cheong
Cast: Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Patrick Tam Yiu-Man, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Tsui Tin-Yau, Kiki Sheung Tin-Ngor, Austin Wai Tin-Chi, Wong Wan-Choi, Lee Yee-Man, Gloria Wong, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho
The Skinny: Triad flick that can't decide whether it wants to be an original comedy or a cliched drama. Ultimately the film is an amusing, though hardly necessary genre exercise, and worth skipping unless you happen to be a big fan of anyone involved. Featuring an overacting Jordan Chan.
by Kozo:

Given only minor theatrical play and by default a larger home video release, Who's Next is yet another attempt at Hong Kong's overdone triad genre. Directed by Chung Kai-Cheong (A-1 Headline), the film has its positive points, including a promising cast and a workable, though familiar plotline. However, the film doesn't capitalize on its potential to become anything more than just an also-ran genre entry. At the very least, Jordan Chan turns in an entertaining performance as a wacky gang boss. Positives exist if you look for them.

The plot can best be described as a combination of Election and Brothers, with low-key wackiness thrown in. After the leader of the Hung Ling triad kicks off, the candidates for top dog appear to be Tam (Austin Wai), a stalwart and respected member of the triad, and Song (Jordan Chan), a flamboyant boss who appears to share Saddam Hussein's tailor. Song dresses in unnecessary paramilitary garb, and chomps cigars like Hannibal from the A-Team. He's also a complete bastard, as evidenced by his loud, uncouth manner and general unpleasantness. Think Ugly Kwan from the Young and Dangerous films, only bald and not as entertaining.

Tam is likely the next leader of Hung Ling, as the other bosses seem to favor him. However, Song frames Tam for chicanery at the leader's funeral, basically forcing him out of the election. Also, Tam has a son back in the states, Bowie (Tsui Tin-Yau), who has no idea he's a triad and Tam would like to keep it that way. Thus, he willingly bows out of the election, but inter-gang strife is not to be avoided. Tam gets killed in an accident, but it looks like a hit, and everyone thinks Song was behind it. Song wasn't, but he's pissed anyway because now he's unable to off Tam himself.

Still looking to stick it to Tam even post-death, Song pushes Tam's family for a simple cremation instead of a grand funeral, which wouldn't be giving Tam face, but would give Song his jollies. That's a problem for Tam's widow (Kiki Sheung), as well as his number one son Ben (Gordon Lam), an ex-con who reveres his father. Ben and his mother want a grand funeral to honor Tam, and the gang is partial to it too. Bowie, however, is dismayed that his family is full of triads and wants a simple cremation so he can head back to the states to turn in his school paper (really!). Also, the body keeps changing hands, and OCTB head Dai (Patrick Tam) can't stop meddling. Will Tam get his funeral, and will Song finally get what's coming to him?

Who's Next is loaded with conflicts, hidden agendas, and potential double-crosses, but it can't deliver enough suspense or drama to make the mixture work. Besides the common triad film signifiers of family angst, triad politics and sweaty cops, Who's Next goes for a sort of triad satire with its over-the-top character of Song, who possesses the same bluster and borderline psychotic disposition as Big D, Tony Leung Ka-Fai's character in Election. However, Song possesses none of Big D's charisma, and Chan's over-the-top performance comes without any glimpses of humanity or self-doubt. He's essentially a one-note caricature, and the film is unable to sell him as anything other than a satirical tool.

Adding to the potential satire is the film's plot, which involves the constant "on again, off again" status of Tam's funeral, not to mention the fact that Tam's body gets shuffled around from person to person. First it's a cremation, then a funeral, then another funeral, except now it's being hosted by someone else, etc., etc. The process lends itself to some black humor, but Chung Kai-Cheong seems stuck between making a triad drama or a lighter, satirical gang movie, the result being a concoction that doesn't seem to work either way. The performances are mostly serious, with the notable exception of Jordan Chan, who chews scenery like no tomorrow, with comic, but rather unthreatening results. The character ultimately never convinces, and it becomes a wonder why someone doesn't just give him a surprise beatdown. Presumably, nobody in the film would mind.

The reason that Song may avoid instant assassination is that laws and natural propriety make such gratifying violence impossible. However, Who's Next doesn't really convince of its reality. There are ripe conflicts and some stuff that seems pretty nasty, but overall the film is rather mild, partly because of the seeming attempts at satire, but also because the performances are lightweight ones. Gordon Lam's Ben Hung is a rather bland hero, and Tsui Tin-Yau is incredibly annoying as younger brother Bowie. Who's Next features another go-around for the "triad brothers argue and then get along" cliché, and that's all it feels like here: a cliché. As meddling cop Dai, Patrick Tam fares slightly better than either Lam or Tsui, but he noticeably overacts, and sometimes comically.

However, Tam is a complete pussycat next to Jordan Chan, whose rabid portrayal of Song is the over-the-top centerpiece of the film, and probably the main reason it would be worth recommending. Since Chan made a large part of his fame playing the righteous, cool Chicken in the Young and Dangerous series, it's amusing seeing him go the Ugly Kwan route in a triad film. Chan's career has seen some slippage since he rose to prominence in the late nineties, and playing villains may not be such a bad move for him to get some more career heat. He'll need better scripts and a better director than Chung Kai-Cheong, however. Who's Next has a solid genre foundation, and some of its satirical ideas are good. The execution, however, just isn't there. (Kozo 2008)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamoprhic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Century Creator Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen