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_ (1991)
To Be Number One

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 04/29/2007
Summary: Not much new....

To Be Number One is a crime drama that tells the story of Crippled Ho (Ray Lui), a gang leader from the mainland who comes to Hong Kong during the 70s to escape the Cultural Revolution. He, along with his small outfit, work odd jobs in the city, all while pulling small time capers in order to supplement their incomes. When they start to step on the toes of more powerful gangs, they come to the attention of Hong Kong's top crime figure, Wu Shin-Kwan (Kent Cheng). Seeing potential in Ho, he allows him to work under his umbrella of protection in the thriving drug trade. Eventually, Ho starts to feel that he deserves more than he is being given, and decides to break from Wu. Thus begins a rivalry between to the two that turns into a bloody gang war for decades.

Crime dramas involving the triads are always enjoyable, but To Be Number One never really breaks from the pack and establishes itself as anything different. Ray Lui displays a suitable, menacing sneer in most of his scenes, but doesn't add a lot of character to Crippled Ho other than being ruthless and power hungry. Cecilia Yip and Lawrence Ng have probably the two most interesting roles with Lau as Ho's wife and Ng as Wu Ming, Ho's Lothario friend who lusts after May (Amy Yip), Wu Shin-Kwan's girlfriend. Being a retread of oft-used plots, you expect the rise to power, the struggle against rivals, the excess of riches and the eventual downfall due to complacency and jealousy among former partners. To Be No. 1 is adequate if you're in the mood for Tales of the Triads, but don't expect anything more.


Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/11/2007
Summary: overlong, overblown

To Be Number One is an overlong, overblown melodrama based on the life of a Hong Kong triad boss. Probably director Poon Man-Kit's best work, this film is mostly remembered for a bizarre scene, so wrong on so many levels, where Kent Cheng Jak-Si humiliates Amy Yip Ji-Mei while knocking around her assets. This film is a good example of excellent work from Academy Award winning cinematographer Peter Pau Tak-Hai's early career.

It's a funny thing about movies, you know? Here we have one HKMDB reviewer who says that "Ray Lui swaggers and sweats through his over-the-top performance". Another internet critic says that "Lui sleepwalks through his performance". I'd say his work falls somewhere in the middle of those two ends of the acting spectrum.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/28/2007
Summary: Nowhere near number one

I haven't seen Scarface, but this reminded me of a bad copy of Scorcese's Goodfellas (which was pretty awful too !). If you can empathize with any of the characters here, you're doing better than me. Ray Lui sneers and swaggers a lot, but is neither evil enough to be a truly engaging villain, nor likeable enough to be an anti-hero.

Plenty of extremely gory fight action, but nowhere near satisfying enough to save this turkey. A few notes for die-hard Amy fans, who'll watch this film for no other reason. Frequent use of the fast-forward button is recommended. La Amy has a few brief appearances, featuring the usual liberal but not total cleavage views. Her best scene is when crime boss Kent Cheng repeatedly slaps the famous knockers and declares them droopy. Yeah, right .....

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/27/2005

Supposedly based on a real gangster, To Be Number One tells the tried-and-true story of a street hoodlum (Lui) who rises through the ranks of the Triad and becomes a Big Brother, only to lose the things he holds most dear.

This is a really tired plot that has been done countless times since 1932's Scarface, and To Be adds nothing new to the genre. Lui sleepwalks through his performance and even though the cast is packed with good actors, the weak script leaves them little to work with. Even though the film runs about two and a half hours, it really feels like it goes nowhere. If you can't see where this film is going at every turn, then you must have started watching movies or are just incredibly stupid.

Even Amy Yip's abundant cleavage can't add any excitement to this stinker -- avoid To Be Number One unless you're out of Nytol and need to get some sleep.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: Average!!

i thought this was a pretty average movie. The scenes seem to jump to the next scene very quickly and i didn't find this that exciting.


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/13/2002

Firstly, what people do not realise, is that this is NOT a rip-off from the Scarface story, this is a real life story.

This film is an extensive insite to the life of the gang boss of Hong Kong known as Limpy Ho, The movie was at the time, and may still be know as 'the longest movie in Hong Kong history', at 2hr30. The story is very brutal and very true to life. I have read up on Limpy Ho in the past and know a lot about his dealings in Heroin and brutal actions, which made him one of the most feared people in Hong Kong.

This movie is a must if you take into account that this is NOT a rip off which the other reveiwers think, this is a true story.

Highly recommended. The only down site, is that the character Amy Yip plays is very fictional the the film makers only using her to get peoples attention I think, as she ends up being with about 4 guys altogether.

Rating: 4/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: leh
Date: 12/09/1999

The first in the trend of over-long dramas chronicling the lives of various HK gangsters or policemen. Not very engaging. A bit of a Hong Kong version of de Palma's Scarface.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Ho hates the life of being coerced by the gangs in Shantou,and decides to work for Fat Ball, the gang leader. Ho's courage and determination win him Ball's trust and his own foothold in the underworld. But when Ho's success threatens Ball, Ball tries to kill him. Injured in the attempt, Ho seeks revenge. He succeeds in putting Ball in jail and becoming the head of the underworld. At the same time, he becomes too arrogant to cooperate with anybody else. Finally, his followers betray him. The once king of the underworld has to live the remainder of his life in jail.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Billed as "the Chinese 'Godfather,'" this is more like a cut-rate version of dePalma's Scarface, set just before the ICAC's crackdown on organized crime in the late '60s. Ray Lui swaggers and sweats through his over-the-top performance of a young gangster on his way up.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 3