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March 11th, 2002 Issue #99

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

The Final Winner
(2001; Matrix Productions Co. / Sam Po Film)

Cover art courtesy Universe.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Goo wak jai ji chut wai
Mandarin: Gu huo zi zhi chu wei
English: Young Rascals: Establishing A Reputation

The Red Eagle triad gang does not command the respect it used to, thanks to the new, tolerant approach adopted by aging leader Brother Cheng (beloved Shaw Brothers kung fu star Chen Kuan-tai). Hot-tempered Wang Bao (Michael Tse Tin-wah) refuses to abide by this new axiom, though his goldbricking sidekicks, drug addict Red Bean and would-be pimp Mung Bean (Benny Chan Ho-man), are more than happy to avoid any possible violence. Mung falls for the gang's new hooker, Kitty (Grace Lam Nga-sze), and promises to get her the $200,000 she claims to need for her mother's operation. Foolishly, he borrows the money from the Red Eagles' chief rivals, the Good Fortune gang, bringing the wrath of loanshark Tiger (Jackie Lui Chung-yin) down upon him and his buddies.

Grace Lam Nga-Sze. Image courtesy Universe.

Like CRIME OF A BEAST (reviewed last issue), this was shot on digital video but THE FINAL WINNER comes closer to being a "real" movie, thanks to the fact that director Ally Wong Kar-fai is able to make the proceedings reasonably cinematic in terms of camera placement and movement. The use of video is actually appropriate in this case, as the majority of the plotting is the sort of uninspired filler one finds on a TV mini-series. There are no fresh angles or conflicts and certainly nothing approaching the scale or production values regularly seen in the goo wak jai films that dominated the mid-90s. If you are a fan of this genre, you know that it ran out of gas a few years back because there were no fresh avenues left to explore. THE FINAL WINNER is simply a further, unnecessary reminder of that fact.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5908
Sync Sound Cantonese (Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1, and DTS) and Dubbed Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.79:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
80 Minutes
Contains moderate violence and drug use (the Category III rating is apparently due to the movie's depiction of triad life)

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: III


The image is a little soft at times but generally good. More impressive is the sound mix (available in four formats), which boasts impressive presence considering the film's quickie origins. Trailers for this film, EXTREME CHALLENGE, and CRIME OF A BEAST are provided, along with a Talent File for Grace Lam.

THE FINAL WINNER is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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