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
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.