A three-card trick that thinks it’s far more clever than it actually is, “Jiang Hu” is an average Hong Kong triad movie with a big-name cast and a cheap Big Twist. First solo effort by writer-director Wong Ching-po (“Fu Bo”) performed credibly last spring, and wide fest exposure since autumn indicates a solid afterlife in ancillary.
Wannabe young gangsters Yik (Shawn Yue, good) and Turbo (Edison Chen, lightweight) compete for a do-or-die assignment to kill a major hood. Yik gets the job, and the duo set out on the night streets to find a gun. Meanwhile, top mobster Hung Yen-chiu (Andy Lau, unbelievable), who’s just become a father, hears someone is out to kill him in the coming hours. His best pal, Lefty (Jacky Cheung, with Rasta haircut), urges him to retire; but Hung wants to find out who’s behind the planned hit. Smooth opening reel, cross-cutting between the parallel strands, is promisingly atmospheric; thereafter, pic becomes an increasingly empty series of stylistic conceits, neither consistently quirky nor especially cohesive. Title (literally, “Rivers and Lakes”) denotes a heroic landscape, either criminal or chivalrous.