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Young and Dangerous 3

Violent, hard-driving action, stylish visuals and handsome young antiheroes with chutzpah to burn has placed the Triad youth series "Young and Dangerous" among Hong Kong's biggest B.O. smashes of the past year. In the third installment, director Andrew Lau hones the formula to edgy, exciting new heights as the passing of the old guard governed by rigid honor codes and the arrival of a ruthless new generation untroubled by questions of loyalty points to a future of chaos and destruction. Latest entry reps the series' best shot yet at breaking beyond Chinatown circuits to find a cult niche in selected urban markets. The first two pics tracked the rise of young punk Chan Ho-nam (Cheng Yee-kin), his sidekick Chicken (Jordan Chan) and their cronies in the Hung Hing triad, where they faced not only opposition from rival clans but from senior members of the organization unused to the brash upstarts' ways. This time, they go up against the Tung Sing triad's sadistic young gun Crow (Roy Cheung), an ambitious junior gang member who challenges them for control of their turf.

With:
With: Cheng Yee-kin, Jordan Chan, Gigi Lai, Karen Mok, Roy Cheung, Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Michael Tse.

Planning to hit the Hung Hing far from their home ground, Crow tails them on a field trip to Amsterdam. With support from the Dutch network, he wipes out godfather Chiang (Simon Yam), at the same time shrewdly framing Nam for the deed. Back in Hong Kong, Nam’s fate is decided by the group elders, with his boozy former rival Tai-fei (Anthony Wong) drawing the short straw that tags him as Chiang’s avenger.

While Nam hides out in his former housing estate home with his amnesia-afflicted femme Smartie (Gigi Lai), Crow continues his maniacal rise to power. He kills Camel, his own boss, who opposed his handling of the Amsterdam incident, and again succeeds in making it look like a Hung Hing hit. During a failed attempt to wipe out his nemesis, Crow abducts Smartie, whom he viciously kills while forcing Nam to watch. But retribution comes to him at Camel’s funeral.

The entertaining, incident-crammed gang warfare yarn rips along breathlessly, but contrary to many straight action entries, spends considerable energy cultivating character. The efforts of Nam to reawaken Smartie’s memory of him add a softer texture to the pic, as does the bantering between Chicken and Shuk-fan (Karen Mok from “Fallen Angels”), a smart-mouthed preacher’s daughter who turns into a knife-wielding banshee when cornered.

Comedy plays an important part, as when Chicken and a cohort revisit the playground where they had their first, humiliating encounter with older Triad thugs. The situation is amusingly turned on its head when they back off terrified from kids armed only with attitude, suggesting a generational lapse in traditional laws of respect.

Lau’s relentlessly energized lensing, full of frenetic hand-held work, creates a dynamic look that adds to the ultracool art direction and costumes. The male cast of muscle-toned Hong Kong youths clad in skintight Versace-style pimp-wear already has proven a hit with gay audiences on the international fest circuit.

Young and Dangerous 3

Hong Kong

Production: A Golden Harvest presentation of a Bob & Partners Co. production. (International sales: Golden Harvest, Hong Kong.) Produced by Manfred Wong. Co-producer, Kong Yuk Yee. Directed by Andrew Lau. Screenplay, Manfred Wong, Chau Ting from a story by Cow Man, Dickey Yau.

Crew: Camera (color), Lau; editor, Marco; music, Clarence Hui; art direction, Ho Kim Hung; costume design, Lee Pik Kwan; sound, Leung Chi-tat. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival, Feb. 4, 1997. (Also in Berlin Film Festival --- Forum.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Cheng Yee-kin, Jordan Chan, Gigi Lai, Karen Mok, Roy Cheung, Anthony Wong, Simon Yam, Michael Tse.

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