Thursday, October 08, 2009

REBELLION: Hong Kong Chop-Chop Suey

REBELLION (crime thriller)
Cast: Shawn Yue, Elanne Kwong, Ada Choi, Chapman To, Jun Kung and Conroy Chan
Writer-Director: Herman Yau
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Elanne Kwong (right) in REBELLION

PREAMBLE: Hong Kong chop-chop suey, anyone? Hey, this is a Herman Yau flick and blood, gang fights and machettes are his staple, just like mahjong and gangland table talk. Anyway, this effort is a lot better than his Laughing Gor: Turning Point, and should be a boost for both his directing as well as screen-writing careers.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? After a brief backgrounder about the East district in Hong Kong that is controlled by five rival gangs, we plunge straight into the actrion. Triad boss Jimmy is ruthlessly shot by a hitman - and suspicion immediately falls on the other four bosses and even his own ambitious right-hand man Blackie (Chapman To).

'Big Sister' Cheong Wah (special appearance by TV's Ada Choi), who is in the mainland, deputises Jimmy's trusted bodyguard, Po (Shawn Yue), to run the show until she comes back but even before the police can complete their investigations, the rival gangs start muscling in on each other's territory. Caught among power-hungry mobsters, the inebriated Po can only rely on restaurant receptionist Ling (Elanne Kwong) to look out for him.

HITS & MISSES: There isn't a lot of blood and gore as one may expect, but Yau's narrative grips us right from the start. He feeds us bits of information, a little at a time - and keeps us tensed and hungry for more. Some of the gangland action are exaggerated and over the top, but when we have Chapman To and Jun Kung (as Sandy) facing-off each other, these are to be expected. Shawn Yue acquits himself nicely as the reluctant acting boss but it is Elanne Kwong who gets the best scenes and lines as Po's admirer and protector.

And as if to serve as dessert to his chop-chop suey, scripter Yau has a nice twist wrapped up for the ending too. It is simple but effective.

THE LOWDOWN: Catch it if you like fast-paced gangland action.


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