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Featured DVD Review: King of Triads

February 27th, 2012

King of Triads - Buy from Amazon

King of Triads, a.k.a., Bad Blood, a.k.a., Mit moon, was written, directed, and produced by Dennis Law. This is not the first film of his I've reviewed, as a few years back I reviewed Fatal Contact. The two films not only share the multihyphenated Dennis Law, but also a few stars. Will it be as good as his previous film? And is the DVD worth picking up?

The Movie

The film begins with a chase scene as several members of a Triad gang are on the run from the Chinese police. Despite being outnumbered, the criminals have superior martial arts skills and most get away. Most, but not the leader, Andy Lok. The leader is caught with counterfeit currency plates on him. It isn't long before the leader is tried, convicted, and publicly executed, but while this is a great victory for the Chinese government, it results in a leadership vacuum for this particular Triad gang.

The gang votes in a new leader, Funky, but one of the first things Funky does is demand Andy's family repay the money the old boss used to buy the currency plates in the first place. At first Audrey (Bernice Liu), Andy's daughter, seems fine with this, or at least reluctantly agrees to go along. But Calf, a young gang member with a large birthmark on his face, is looking to rise in the ranks. He teams up with Dumby (Luxia Jiang), a deaf and mute fighter, who, despite her small size, can kick a lot of ass. When Audrey and her brother, Jason (Lok-yi Lai), inherit all of their father's wealth, his gang is not pleased. When the lawyer, Peter Wong, takes a header off a tall building, the gang thinks Audrey and Jason might have had something to do with it, so when Jason is killed in a car-bombing, everyone assumes Funky arranged for that as retribution. This convinces Audrey that trying to work with the Triads is not an acceptable plan, and she should move onto Plan B, kill the leaders and take over and she'll use Calf to to carry out this plan. ... But first she needs a new hairdo.

That's enough of the plot. In fact, that's more of the plot than you need. The plot is more or less superfluous and it merely there to set up different fights. We've seen stories about power struggles in criminal organizations many times before. There is a surprise twist or two in the film, but they are given away too early, so by the time we get to the big reveal, it is unlikely to surprise. (In fact, I thought it was so obvious that it was a red herring.) The characters were mostly underdeveloped. Calf being an outcast because his mother was a prostitute or Dumby being a deaf / mute orphan is as close as it comes to real character development. And sure, Dumby having feelings for Calf was something, but for the most part, the story wasn't strong enough to make us care about the characters.

We do get to see quite a few really good fights, although they begin to feel repetitive. Sending one or two people against a wave of enemies has been done countless times before, and while Andy On and Luxia Jiang are very skilled fighters, you still need a hook to make the fights stand out. (Her being a deaf / mute is a good character hook, but doesn't really play out in the fights.) What was needed was better use of the locations to become memorable. Likewise, Bernice Liu definitely has the skills to carry a fight scene, and having a female as a strong lead is still quite rare for a movie like this (it's even rarer to have two females go at it in the climatic fight).

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD is an eight-minute behind-the-scenes / interview featurette.

The Verdict

Overall, King of Triads is an acceptable martial arts movie that provides enough action to keep your attention, but it doesn't do anything well enough to stand out. There are not enough extras on the DVD to make it worth picking up, but perhaps it's worth a rental.

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