This 1987 “Heroic Bloodshed” film followed on
the heels of the success of A Better Tomorrow and it too delves into the
world of the triads and ritualistic male bonding. In most ways it falls
very short of A Better Tomorrow, but it has some interesting aspects to
The three main male actors all were major stars
in their respective decades. Patrick Tse was a major heartthrob during
the 1960s (and is the father of current heartthrob Nicholas Tse), Alan
Tang was one of the top romantic stars of the 1970’s (in particular in
Taiwan where he teamed up a few times with Brigitte Lin) and of course
Chow Yun Fat was the biggest male actor of the 1980s. All three are terrific
actors and seeing them together is a treat.
A year before his directorial debut As Tears Go
By, Wong Kar-wai penned this script for producer, Alan Tang. I can’t say
there is anything in the script that gives a hint of the promise of things
to come from Wong – but that is not too surprising as directors tend to
often dramatically change the substance and mood of scripts to their own
liking. What is clear though is that Tang thought enough of it and of Wong
to produce both As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild.
In many of these male-bonding films, there is
often much conjecture about the subtext of homosexuality within (much of
it nonsense in my opinion). Though perhaps inadvertent, the English title
“Flaming Brothers” almost seems to mock this. What was the Chinese title
– “No, We’re Just Good Friends”? In a number of instances in the film other
characters make pointed references that unless the two friends – Tang and
Chow – find girlfriends everyone will think they are lovers. Needless to
say, they always take offense at this suggestion!
Outside of this though, the film is often flat
and slow moving. Almost from the beginning you know exactly where the film
is heading – but it takes a circuitous path getting there. There are a
couple decent action sequences – but the film becomes bogged down in three
love stories – the men’s ones with the women – and of course the underlying
one with each other.
Tang and Chow grow up together – both orphans
– and depend completely on one another into their adult years. They open
a ritzy nightclub in Macao, but almost immediately run into trouble in
the form of big triad honcho Patrick Tse and his right hand man Norman
Tsui. They want to sell drugs in the club and Tang being the righteous
man he is tells them that “pimping, robbing, gun smuggling” is all fine
and dandy – but no drugs. Tse doesn’t take kindly to this rejection.
Tang goes to Thailand to complete an arms deal
– and a good shoot out and a tuk-tuk chase occurs on the streets on Bangkok
– and he falls in love with a lounge singer (Jenny Tseng). Back in Macao
Chow comes across the little girl he knew as a child – all grown up into
Pat Ha -and one look into her sweet honey dew eyes and he is ready
to forsake the triad life and his life long friend. But the life pulls
him back – as his friend, Alan, has to face Tse on his own – and Chow knows
he has to be there too. The last twenty minutes of the film turns into
one excellent guns a blazing blood bath.
My rating for this film: 6.0
Distributed by Universe
The image quality is quite good - very
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Subtitles - : Chinese (Traditional),
English, Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Korean and French.
Includes it's own trailer and the trailer for
The Witch from Nepal, Hearty Response and The Fun, The Luck and the Tycoon.
Star files on Chow Yun-fat and Alan Tang.