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江湖龍虎鬥 (1987)
Flaming Brothers

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 09/04/2009
Summary: Utterly dreadful

A complete arse of a film, with a script loaded up with toxic levels of cheese that makes it impossible to take any of the over-cooked drama seriously, and directed with all the finesse of a truck crashing through a crowded bus stop. Completely inane and ridiculous. The action scenes are mostly amateurish, just running about pointing guns with no precision and then wriggling about with a grimace on whilst squibs burst all over the body. Embarrassing. A few of Chow Yun Fat's scenes with Pat Ha are OK though.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 01/07/2009
Summary: raging...

tin (chow yun-fat) and alan (alan tang) grew up on the streets, stealing food to survive. turning to a life of crime, the two brothers become successful, but soon find themselves in trouble with kao (patrick tse) - a local boss with a bad attitude - after they refuse to sell his drugs in their clubs, bars and brothels. in order to appease kao, alan heads to thailand to strike a deal with a munitions supplier, whilst tin stays in macau and finds himself bumping into, and falling in love with, ka-hsi (pat ha): a girl who used to feed tin and alan when they lived on the streets. when alan returns from thailand he has big plans, whilst tin wants to go straight. regardless, kao looks like he's going to be causing trouble...

basically, this is entertaining junk. alan tang, who other reviewers seem to have praised, is dreadful. really dreadful. chow yun fat, on the other hand, does a reasonable job. the story itself is pretty straight-forward and the film's only stand out feature is the amount of blood and a couple of bits of nastiness. yep, it would seem that the majority of the film's budget was spent on squibs and fake blood, whilst instead of choreographing complex set pieces, they just decided to fire as many shots as possible every time a gun is drawn. not a great decision, but it gets away with it.

entertaining, if not particularly good...

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/25/2006
Summary: Better than expected

A heroic bloodshed movie which i found quite entertaining.
The reason, i believe, is just the amount of blood that splatters all over the screen. It's reminds me of "the Killer" where the main characters have unlimited bullets and are almost immune to gunfire!!

Alan Tang is under rated, he plays the hard nose gangster roles well and has the look for it,

Chow yun FAt charisma shows in his character

My main issue with this movie is the divergence in the middle of the movie, where it turns into a drama. While its need for the character development between Chow yun fat and his love interested, i felt like the momentum stopped!!

A simple plot and not much story, but is this why your watching the movie??

A suprise ending helps the movie

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Frank Lakatos
Date: 02/10/2006
Summary: The talent was there, but not the writing and not Chow Yun Fat..

This had the makings of a classic triad movie, because the talent was there. Everybody, from the stars to the producer was ready to make something effective. The problem is that the script is poorly written, simply because it's written by the overrated and artsy, to be honest, corny, Wong kar Wai, and Chow Yun fat's inconsistant presence, in combination to the awful scenes he's in, breaks the movie down, instead of building it. Even worse, Chow had this habit to gain weight during the production, and his style of hair, as Chow's weight and hair cut, from a regular cut to crew cut, is bothersome. Alan Tang's scenes are classy and well shot, in fact, some of his best triad scenes he had done in the 80's, and he holds the movie together, all the way to the final and brutal confrontation, that is stylisticall more original and better than any of the A Better Tomorrow movies. Joe Cheung and Jeff Lau worked at their best when director producer Dennis Yu was around with them, for example, the classic milestone, Coolie Killer(1982), which influenced John Woo and all of the triad gun movie sthat followed. If Dennis Yu would have been used, this would have been a classic traid movie. Since Yu didn't do this movie, the movie loses style and substance. This is Alan Tang's movie. Chow Yun Fat has cameos. Because of Alan Tang's excellent performance, the Thai locations, and the powerfully effective shootout, thanks to Joe Cheung and Jeff Lau's work. this movie retains the style and power it almost loses. Another gripe I are the fist fighting sound effects. While during the Dennis Yu productions with Cheung and Lau, the loud 80's kickboxing effects were used to give greater impact and to the fist fight scenes. Here, the soft fighting sound effects are used, while soft up and rip the guts out of the fist fight scenes. It's a shame that Alan Tang didn't use Dennis Yu, who casted him two years before in the well made Yellow Peril(1984). 4/5

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 03/05/2005
Summary: Good but not great...

Flaming Brothers is a classic example of how good news and bad news often go hand-in-hand. The good news is that Flaming Brothers features some of the better gunfighting scenes to come out of Hong Kong during the late 1980's -- and considering how many "heroic bloodshed" films were being cranked out in HK during this time period, that is really saying a lot. The bad news is that Flaming Brothers also features some of Chow Yun-Fat's worst acting to date. In a career where he has mostly hit home runs, Chow's performance here is akin to a bunt that goes straight into the pitcher's glove. It's almost embarassing and threatens at many times to destroy the entire movie.

The film starts out with two friends growing up in an orphanage who early on see the gangster lifestyle as a a way out of poverty. Flash-forward about twenty years, and now the grown men (played by Chow and Alan Tang) have become successful Triads in Macau. However, after refusing to run drugs for the local dai lo (Patrick Tse), they are challenged to go to Thailand to do a dangerous arms deal to prove their worth to the "family".

So far this is pretty standard HK gangster stuff, but it's at this point that Flaming Brothers almost totally switches gears and threatens to lose the viewer in the process. Tang -- for reasons that are never explained -- goes to Thailand by himself to complete the deal, while Chow stays in Macau to romance a girl he had a crush on as a kid. It's these romantic scenes that really killed the buzz for me. Beforehand, we were treated to lots of gratuitous violence and a smattering of sex. But the middle portion of the movie has Chow over-acting as he hams it up, even going so far as to appear in women's makeup during a musical number which has absolutely no reason to be in this film. After seeing Flaming Brothers, I now know why screenwriter Wong Kar-Wai doesn't use scripts for his own films, because he really didn't seem to have a solid grip on creating a coherent story arc at this point in his career (some would say that this is a skill he still hasn't developed, but that's a matter for a different review).

Thankfully, things pick up near the end, when Tang and Chow team up to finally take down Tse. The finale displays the gunplay HK action movie fans love dearly -- stuff where guys don't just take one or two bullets before they go down, they take one or two dozen. The ending is also satisfyingly downbeat, especially compared with more modern films, where suagry-sweet endings seem to be the order of the day. For all that is good with Flaming Brothers, I just simply cannot forgive the movie's shortcomings in the middle half-hour. This portion almost feels Godfrey Ho-esque, like Chow's footage was taken from a different movie and spliced in. It's a shame, really, because Flaming Brothers isn't a bad film -- it just felt like it could have been so much better.

[review from]

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 03/21/2002

Even though 2 of the reviewers found it hard to follow because of lack of subtitles, I still think it is a simple enough story (even though I understand a lot Cantonese anyway). In fact it is so simple that you could watch it without any subtitles or audio and understand it.

It may seem uninteresting at times yes, but it’s still quite entertaining. Though for 1987 it is not very good compared to all the other films released at that time, but I think the other reviewers were exaggerating when they said it wasn’t original, because I can’t think of too many films like this before 1987, only a handful. Chow Yun Fat doesn’t particularly act or even look good in this though, forcing Alan Tang to take over, who doesn’t look that good at the best of times.

It seems to jump stories as it goes a long, starting out as the boys growing up together, then showing the violent stories of Alan Tang, then going on to Chow Yun Fats comedy & romance scenes. The 2 run into each other and things start to get bloody, as the 2 soon fall out.

Overall Flaming Brothers is an entertaining action drama film, but don’t expect too much depth, especially with its basic plot and lack of real story. It starts out looking very promising indeed, but unfortunately looses interest as the film goes on, as in true Chow Yun Fat fashion it turns to comedy – then romance. There would be nothing wrong with that, but considering it's gangster first half, the comedy just seems so out of place. It’s worth seeing though.

Rating: [3/5]

Reviewed by: Ash
Date: 12/07/2001
Summary: Pretty good movie!

Before watching this movie I didn't have high expectations about it but when I finally saw it I was truly satisfied with it. Its the story of 2 ''brothers'' who are living a criminal life until one of them (Chow Yun fat) meets the woman of his dream and wants to stop being illegal and have a normal life. The main character is Alan's one and Chow yun fat comes close second. The actors are good, the story is alright but some of the gunfights deserve a look.I counted 4 good gunfights in the movie, the last one is especially good ;it's very intense and gritty. Overall definitely worth a look especially for the last gunfight!......................................................7,9/10

Reviewed by: dragyn
Date: 03/04/2001
Summary: Better Than You Might Expect

When I ordered "Flaming Brothers" from Movie Mail, I really expected it to be BAD. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be an entertaining movie, with a good storyline and clean, beautiful cinematography. That's not to say it's great, by any means - just entertaining, and there are several faults in it.

The plot is simple: Ah Tien (Chow Yun-Fat) and Alan (Alan Tang) play two young brothers who do everything together - they are inseperable. When they reach adulthood, they even become arms-dealers together. But finally, both men fall in love; the two women they fall for become a wedge between them, and their friendship is really put to the test. Many people have claimed that the relationship between Ah Tien and Alan is supposed to be homosexual; personally, I don't think it was intended to be. Instead, I think the director was attmepting to create a "male-bonding" storyline much like some of John Woo's films, but handled the subject matter with less subtlety.

This is a formula plot, sure enough. Unfortunately, no real originality is injected into the cliched story, either; there is even a strong sense of the whole thing being very plot-driven, rather than character-driven.

The biggest fault the movie makes in my view is to pile tragedy on top of tragedy, until when the real tragedy arrives at the end of the movie, it has no real impact left. In other words, the body of the movie stales the otherwise effective ending.

The movie is also incredibly unoriginal, both in cinematography and direction, and in story and themes. There are themes of brotherhood and loyalty and honour that greater directors such as John Woo have used countless times to greater effect; there is slo-mo used that is a Woo staple. In short - "Flaming Brothers" is not a fresh film.

Action scenes are also few and far-between, and the director does not seem very confident when filming a shoot-out; he seems poised unsteadily between the ultra-realist appraoch of Ringo Lam, and the stylised approach of John Woo, employing both effects clumsily in various parts of the movie.

Although not a very fresh movie, "Flaming Brothers" is still entertaining. I rate it: 6/10

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/25/2001
Summary: Disappointing

Starts out okay. Chow and Tang, boyhood friends, grow up to be an effective gangster team. Then they separate, for no apparent reason. I agree that the lack of subtitles is a problem here. Tang goes to Bangkok and teams up with a boxing gangster. Both men find love. They meet up again, and marry their girlfriends, but Tang chews Chow out over something (no idea what).
This film is basically dull, lack of subs notwithstanding. It can't seem to decide between being a gangster actioner or a romance. Much more screen time is spent on the latter, and it's very DULL. I couldn't watch it to the end.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

The relationship between brother Wing (Alan Tang) and brother Fat(Chow Yun-Fat) is put to the test in this melodrama. The highlight of the film is the action packed shootout at the end. I thought there was great chemistry between Alan and CYF. I would have enjoyed the film much more if there were English subs.

[Reviewed by BB]