Once A Gangster (2010): The Triads Get A Mortgage!

You know, when you seen a gazillion triad movies, it’s hard to bring something new. Ok, not quite that many, but I’ve been privy to the teenage triad movie, the betrayal triad movie, the female triad movie, the triad comedy, the triad tragedy, the triad drama.  So when I heard that finally the triad parody was on tap, I was ready.

Now, I realize that one movie cannot spoof every triad film known to man.  But I have to say, it was a certain stroke of genius to cast Ekin Cheng and Jordan Chan in Once A Gangster.  Who didn’t love them in the sprawling Young and Dangerous saga? I bet if Andrew Lau made Young and Dangerous: The Grandkids, people would go see it.

What I liked about the film was that it references the big triad films, and you recognize it right away.  What REALLY warmed my heart was it referenced my favorite Andy Lau movie of ALL TIME!  (If we are Asian film siblings, you know what that is.) That was special. And while I usually tell you all the good stuff, I’m going to let you see for yourself.  Just think of how difficult it would be to be a triad member in these hard economic times. Is it still profitable to be a gangster, when you have to send your kids to school? How best can we use social networking for criminal enterprises? These and many more questions are answered. My only complaint is that there wasn’t more spoofing of more films!


You know, I’m tired of the people who market Asian films to solely to men.  They act like only men, especially men in the golden demographic of 18-35, matter.  I got news, people…….women watch Asian film.  And not just the fluffy romantic comedies or coming-of age, angst-ridden teen dramas.  I’m talking serious triad and revenge-laden fare.  The recommendation for me to watch Chan-Wook Park’s Oldboy came from a Korean-American woman.  So what’s up with that?  Why do women like the genres of Asian film distributors and critics alike claim as the purview of men?

Well, I can’t speak for all the ladies, but I can tell you why I love films like Johnny To’s The Mission (See the Liang Shan Lounge this month), John Woo’s heartbreaking Bullet in the Head, and the Young and Dangerous series.  I like the idea of brotherhood, that is, I get it.  It’s not just for men.  The idea that you have someone, or a group of people, who have your back.  However, in most posse dynamics, there is always somebody who has to muck it up.  What do you do?  Well, you could whack them, or the sense of loyalty could be so strong that you are willing to overlook such, um, indiscretions.  I like that tension that occurs when loyalty is one the line.  Who do you trust?  And who are you going to have to take out?  Decisions, decisions.

Of course, there are women who just like to see people get messed up in the worst way.  Me, I’m trying to cut down on the superkinetic violence found in films directed by the likes of Takashi Miike.  But women are watching them.  Be afraid, be very afraid.