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廟街十二少 (1992)
The Prince of Temple Street

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 11/15/2006
Summary: Inept

“The Prince of Temple Street” has no center. It veers from a moody love story set in deserted urban cityscape underlined by jazzy piano score, a madcap romantic comedy in which opposites attract, and brutal tale of small time triads in a turf war. It doesn’t know if it wants to be “Guys and Dolls”, “The Philadelphia Story”, “A Better Tomorrow” or “Romeo and Juliet”. The climactic fight between Prince Twelve and Lap Ling is poorly lit, badly framed and shot from too far away. It is about as exciting a bingo game in a church basement. There is Joey Wong although the costume department and cinematographer do everything in their power to make her look like a dowdy Christian missionary from the countryside. They fail because of her drop-dead sexiness—she would look great in a burkha.

If the two credited screenwriters were paid anything it was too much. They concocted a great hook—a gang boss is emigrating, a boss who has just that day discovered an abandoned baby and who brings the child to the last meeting of the triad governing council—and then it seems that they simply threw a bunch of scenes together and called in a screenplay. One good (meaning bad) example of this is when Theresa asks Master Twelve to show her around Temple Street, his domain. He takes her to a subterranean opium den, with the smokers sitting on a concrete floor separated from each other by billowing, diaphanous curtains. Shocked, she stumbles into another room which is either a slow motion orgy or a coed drunk tank. Even more shocked (and anyone would be at least puzzled by now) she makes it back upstairs to Master Twelve. This very dramatic revelation, that Twelve is running a narcotics operation in the middle of his territory, isn’t referred to again, as if it was simple tossed in for shock value, which it was.

This movie has a cobbled together script, lackadaisical direction and unimaginative editing so it is not surprising that the only actors who really shine are Ng Man-Tat and Deannie Yip Tak-Han, old pros who can deal with and take advantage of a chaotic production. Their characters, a garrulous old hustler and a past her prime madam, are the only ones that the audience can identify with or care about. Andy Lau looks petulant, peevish and generally uncomfortable, like someone who is carrying out an unpleasant duty and simply wants to get over it. Chin Ho portrays a really disgusting bad guy with obvious glee. As is often the case the villain is the most energetic character in the film and Chin is maniacal as a grand guignol scenery chewer. Lee Yee-Ha adds a bit of an edge to the proceedings as the long-legged, tattooed and deadly consort to the villain.

While there are a few excellent scenes, including an emotional confrontation between Peter Pan (Frankie Chan Chi-Leung) and Master Twelve and a loving if a bit rough interlude with the injured Tong Chao Tao and Phoenix who is nursing him. Unfortunately these short scenes stand out because everything around them is so poor.

I can’t think of a reason to recommend this movie to anyone.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 03/05/2006
Summary: Creeps up on you

The opening scene, of a group of a dozen triad bosses who each in turn disown newborn baby who grows up to be Master Twelve (hence the name), seems to have been tacked on as an afterthought. The stellar cast who play the bosses play no further part in the movie, which is a shame.

Despite this strange twist, POTS is surprisingly good. Although it contains quite a few of the elements one has come to expect from a "triad recruitment" movie, POTS manages to surprise and entertain. Having Joey Wong as the (at first reluctant) romantic lead is, of course, a big plus. Looking far too glamorous to be a street evangelist, she is watchable and fascinating throughout, and is even convincing in her role, with enough wide-eyed innocence to make you almost believe she would risk her life to spread the good word in such a risky place. The scenes between her and Andy are terrific, helped along by marvelous cinematography and use of lighting.

The standout actors, though, are Deannie Yip and Ng Man-Tat, playing rather rowdy old couple. Deannie in particular plays her character, of a street-hustling brothelkeeper, with her heart on her sleeve, and despite Phoenix being such a rough one, engenders genuine sympathy and makes her lovable even with her failings.

And there are a few good character actors along the way as well. Chin Ho does does his maniacal best as Twelve's psycho rival, but his girlfriend is really something else. What a nasty piece of work. She makes him look a bit mild.

Somehow, this film just works. Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 04/20/2002
Summary: Pretty good.

Andy Lau plays a triad boss while Joey Wang is a member of a christian "good news society" trying to convert the people of Temple Street. Drama that slowly builds into more frenzied violence as Lau's character"Little Twelve" is hunted down by a foe who just got out of prison, & wants revenge and the turf. Lots of nice shots of HK markets and stalls as well as brothels and opium dens. Ng Man Tat and Deannie Yip's performances are also quite good. Similiar to the Young and Dangerous films that followed a few years later. Check this one gets better if you're patient.