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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brothers 兄弟 starring Eason Chan, Andy Lau, Michael Miu Kiu Wai

Poster of Brothers starring TVB's Four Tigers

The generically-titled 'BROTHERS' is a reunion for four of TVB Five Tigers (five of the most popular TV actors in Hong Kong during the 80s): Andy Lau, Michael Miu Kiu Wai, Felix Wong Yat Wah and Kent Tong Chun-Yip

Produced by Andy Lau's Focus Pictures (same one who brought us Ho Yuhang's Rain Dogs), BROTHERS is a triad film about brotherhood and honour, which is just like the hundreds of other Hong Kong triad films out there, it doesn't help that director Derek Chiu takes a laidback, craftsman-like manner to make this film, taking a seat back and relying solely on the charisma of the actors.

Michael Miu Kiu Wai, whose acting career had enjoyed a renaissance of sorts after starring in numerous high-profile TVB dramas in recent years (and gaining a new generation of fans... like my little sister), plays Yiu, the protagonist of the film, an honorable triad boss trying to legitimize the business inherited from his father, thus facing opposition from others in the gang, like Kui (Kent Tong), who is involved in illegal activities of his own.

Yiu's most loyal righthand man is adopted brother, Ghostie (Felix Wong Yat Wah), while his own little brother Shun (Eason Chan) was separated from him by their father since childhood because Yiu's father heard a prophecy that a reunion between the two brothers would spell instant doom!!! Andy Lau plays a cop. He doesn't have that many scenes, really.

Shun, who was sent off to USA as a child, returns to Hong Kong after an assassination attempt on his father. Back with Yiu again, the blank slate Shun soon finds himself involved in the killings, backstabbing, manipulation and power struggle often associated with the lives of triad members like his elder brother. Sort of like Michael Corleone in Godfather 1, but without the descent to darkness (boo!).

Trust between two brothers is strained when Shun finds himself being used as a pawn by Yiu (who answered "If I want to kill someone, I don't need to do it myself" when younger brother asked whether he had killed anyone before) in his power struggle. After that, there's some action and brotherly melodrama involved, oh, and out of a blue, a Korean-style terminal illness is thrown in as well.

This film is not awful, it does not make me want to walk out of the cinema, but it's generic and contrived, the story is unoriginal, the characters are soulless caricatures, relationships are established in unconvincing montages, and while sleek production values, coupled with the acting and charisma of the actors managed to elevate this film beyond a shitty low-budget triad telemovie, the film is still a really hollow experience.

I saw this film on the same day I saw TRIANGLE, and I have to say that if you have to choose only one between the two, go for TRIANGLE since it's a more interesting experience, go for BROTHERS only if you haven't seen that many triad movies.

Trailer of BROTHERS