Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Young and Dangerous 4, Andrew Lau, 1997

Hard to see 20 years later why these films had a bad reputation in some quarters. Today they feel as alive, sprawling and stylish as the best of golden age Hongkong cinema. A quirky prolongation rather than the sad end of the heroic bloodshed tradition.

This one isn't as good a genre film as part 2 or 3. It takes at least one step too many in soap opera territory, the plot lacks clear internal motivation, and there isn't a standout action set piece like the street brawl in part 3. But as a pre-takover-paranoia film it is even more interesting than its predecessors. Not only in the openly political allusions in the end during the election, but even more so in the more subtle hints towards cultural division especially during the classroom scenes.

A continuing problem of the series is even more obvious this time: the series doesn't really know what to do with ekin chen's charakter. Here, he basically has nothing to do at all, but because he's the star, he still has to be squeezed into every third scene or so. Which is a shame, because while he isn't a good actor, his borderline queer style adds a shade of masculinity seldom seen in this kind of films.

His sex scene with Michelle Reis is great, though. Her face on a rose-emroidered pillow, her hand slowly extending towards his tattooed back, her eyes veering left and right while he lies upon her, the rather uncanny physicality combined at odds with the pictorial beauty of the scene.

(Andrew Lau's work is really amazing throughout the series, both as director and as cinematographer. I really have to catch up on his vast filmography.)

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