The honorable but tough gang leader Han (Kien Shih) commands loyalty and trust among most of the city’s underworld. Friends and former ‘brothers’ in Han’s group (Norman Chu, Yeung Kar Yan, and Richard Cheung) still hold a great deal of affection for Han even though one has joined the police force and the other has left the days of gang fights behind. When Han is the subject of a brutal double cross, it is up to these three vengeance seeking men to see that the parties responsible pay in blood.
Longtime martial arts film baddie Wang Lung Wei directs ones of the craziest and most thrillingly entertaining HK action films ever in 1985’s Hong Kong Godfather. While the setup is generally predictable; father figure gets killed and revenge is meted out in equal meaure, Wang infuses the plot with an energy that revels in the excess of the Hong Kong of the 80s. Bright neon, perms, and pulsing beats dominate the film and a paint a movie that embodies the era. Memorable music, from Cantopop to the synth score add to the wholly enjoyable world of Triad gangland.
Norman Chu is arguably the film’s star though he shares the screen fairly equally with Yeung and to a lesser extent, Cheung. His hideous rat tail, a point of personal shame once upon a time, is absolutely badass ass within the world of the film for the sheer confidence he displays despite it. Emotional and charged, Chu is unrelenting in his loyalty, almost to a fault. Yeung actually has limited presence until the midpoint of the film but he comes in strong with a more personal stake and his chopper.
Where the film gains its notoriety is in the penultimate scene which makes up the final 20 minutes of the film. Legendary is.putting it mildly; it is among the craziest, most batshit crazy action scenes ever put to film. Limbs gets cut, henchmen get stabbed, and wince-inducing falls populate one of the greatest and most entertaining bloodbaths in action film history. There honestly isn’t much that needs to be said about this particular sequence, just that descriptions hardly do it justice.
In the end, Hong Kong Godfather is one of the films which exemplifies exactly why I love Hong Kong cinema so much. It is pure fearlessness in filmmaking and excess done right. Any detriments the film may carry in its technical aspects are more than made for with the its guts, both in its production as well as the literal ones strewn all over the floor. Wang Lung Wei flexes his action muscles delivering a one of a kind action experience that brings the ideas of classic swordplay epics right into contemporary times, and how perfectly does it fit.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: A Better Tomorrow II and/or Police Story