Flaming Brothers

1987 [CN]

Action / Crime / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.3 10 620

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
August 22, 2022 at 08:05 PM

Top cast

Yun-Fat Chow as Chang Ho-Tien
934.78 MB
chi 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 41 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by leighm 8 / 10

A better film than first glance might have it.

Alan Tang (Alan) and Chow Yun-Fat (Ah Tien) play two men who grew up together as street urchins on Macau. When they were boys, Ah Tien was caught stealing rice from the kitchen of the local orphanage by the girl Ka Hsi; instead of reporting him, she hid the theft from the Sisters and started smuggling food to him and the other street kids until she was adopted and left Macau for Hong Kong. Even as a young boy, Ah Tien loved Ka Hsi as much for her kindness as her food and was hurt deeply when she departed.

Younger, less experienced or fierce than the older boy Alan, Ah Tien is taken under Alan's wing. Together they become pickpockets and learn to survive as petty thieves in the streets of Macau. One day they they witness a local "Boss" extracting tribute from the same bullying adults who had recently terrorized the two little pickpockets, and the two boys made a vow that they would one day be in that position of power.

Fast forward to late 1970's Macau, where Alan and Ah Tien are now successful underworld figures on a small scale. The film begins in earnest at the opening of their nightclub, and hear we learn the dynamics of their business and of their personalities. Alan and Ah Tien are now as close as blood brothers, Alan as the Boss and Ah Tien as his second in command; they deal in illegal weapons, gambling and prostitution but according to Alan's principles they do not touch drugs. (Think of the speech of Don Corleone to the assembled Dons in "The Godfather".)

Because they are young and successful, they attract the ire of an older established Boss and the double-crossing begins. On a fateful trip to Thailand wheels are set in motion which will change the lives and loves of the two brothers.

The character of Alan is one of a man who is deeply devoted to the younger Ah Tien, and prizes him above all others. Alan is fierce, arrogant and cock-sure yet there is an underlying current of vulnerability about him which he tries desperately to hide. When he meets Jenny the cocktail lounge singer, he loves her for her rough bravado - she is his twin, a tough woman who deep inside is hiding a wealth of emotion. She is crass (dressed in her huge cow-print fur coat she looks like a walking ad for Gateway Computers) and has a big mouth. Alan says she is "bitchy, but I like that in a woman". After a humiliation at his hands in front of two Thai prostitutes, Jenny seems to have found the man who can tame her and joyfully comes home to Macau with Alan when he leaves Thailand.

In the meanwhile, Ah Tien has been ambling about on Macau in his usual amiable way. Ah Tien is young, handsome and obviously a protege of Alan only out of loyalty; his humor and carefree manner seem to mask all kinds of insecurities, and his baby face (even though CYF was 32 when the film was made, he looks 10 years younger) seems to be better suited to expressing genial good humor than hate and anger - unless he witnesses any slight to Alan, at which he explodes in rage.

A chance encounter (so often important in the course of HK film romance) connects him with Ka Hsi again, now back on Macau and teaching at the convent where she grew up, and where Ah Tien's godson is attending school. At first afraid to tell her who he is, Ah Tien romances Ka Hsi and falls in love with her; after having received his life-long wish to see her again, he never wants to be parted from her. She seems to hold for him the possibility of redemption for his former life of crime as much as being his dream woman; Ah Tien's affection for Ka Hsi is kind and gentle and seems pale in comparison to his fierce love for his brother Alan. Yet he is willing to forego his place in Alan's underworld in order to marry the righteous Ka Hsi, who will only marry him if he gives up all of his illegal activities. When confronted with the possibility of losing his beloved lieutenant, Alan demands that Ah Tien choose between Ka Hsi and himself, and though torn by the choice Ah Tien says he cannot live without Ka Hsi and leaves Alan's house and life with regret.

Upon the separation of ways of Alan and Ah Tien there are a few references by other characters to the sexuality of Alan and Ah Tien; Jenny, who is told that she will always come second to Ah Tien, spits out that Alan can "just go be gay" with Ah Tien. Later one of Alan's henchmen says that Alan should not grieve so openly at his quarrel and parting with Ah Tien, or people will "make fun of them as homosexual". We are left with the clear impression that their love for one another goes beyond brotherly bounds (as they are not blood brothers, but by bond of affection); this explains the jealous rage of Alan upon being rejected by Ah Tien for Ka Hsi, and also of Ah Tien's decision at the end of the film to face death with Alan rather than continue to live with Ka Hsi.

Because of the subplots of the emotional dynamics of Alan, Ah Tien and the two women in their lives, this film is taken above the usual action shoot-'em-up and begins to land in solid territory. Without the tension between Alan and Ah Tien the ending would have been sterile, but as it is their final words are poignant and touching. Jenny, the bad girl who will do anything once, is an interesting character which of the two women is fleshed out a bit more and gives some interest to the story, whereas Ka Hsi as the woman of God seems to be bloodless; we can see why in the end Ah Tien realized that his path lay with Alan and not her.

There is the usual amount of violence in this film, nothing which will be shocking to those to have seen a goodly amount of HK action films. There is one *very* funny scene in which CYF dresses up in makeup drag and does a sort of Boy George impression, leading a karaoke to some Cantonese pop song about being a bad girl last night.

While the action story is very formulaic, the talents of Alan Tang and CYF make the romantic subplots interesting and well worth watching. Alan Tang was considered one of the handsomest leading men in his day, with a very stylized appearance and method of acting. CYF, with an acting style as sheer as that of Catherine Deneuve, is more informal and relaxed. This is a happy combination for this film about two men who are essentially different but who choose to conform to a standard out of love and loyalty.

This is a film that both action and romance fans will enjoy, as long as they are not overly sensitive to the gay undertones. For my money, this makes the performances all the more interesting. A good choice of earlier CYF flicks, even though he is not cast in the leading role.

Reviewed by dolce_knights43 10 / 10

Unsung HK masterpiece

I could not believe that only a few people have seen this let alone heard of it. What disappoints me even more is that the few people that have seen it dismiss it as "mediocre HK action" or even "tepid entry into the heroic bloodshed genre". I completely disagree. When you have Chow yun-fat and violence so graphic it rivals the mayhem in films like The Big Heat(1987), The Killer (1989) and Full Contact (1993).

I agree that it is a mish-mash of tried and tested Heroic Bloodshed cliché's(blood brothers,scheming gangster brother, loved ones killed, revenge etc)but the way it is presented: it will blow you away. You won't believe how fast the movie moves and you can give Wong kar-wai the credit for the script (this is before his As tears go by(1989)). Chow gives his usual performance but he always manages to give a bit of something unique in his roles.

The violence is several levels above the standard. the gun battle scenes are not only bloody, they border into the gruesome.(especially the shootout in Thailand). The violence includes people being blasted with shotguns in the face, a kid getting shot at point blank range and what Heroic bloodshed film would be complete without the inevitable final showdown? I guarantee you action fans, it's a MUST!!! Although not as grand as the endings of A better tomorrow 2 (1987) or The Killer (1989), its a larger variation of the shootout in the end of My heart is that eternal rose (1989).

So you're not convinced yet that it's good? Stop hiding behind your wall of "I'm too formal for this kind of movie" thinking. You'll only deprive yourself of this masterpiece.

Reviewed by paul_haakonsen 5 / 10

Lots of potential drowned in drama and mediocrity...

Oddly enough then I've never gotten around to seeing "Gong woo lung foo dau" (aka "Flaming Brothers") before now in 2019. Even more so odd because I am very interested in Hong Kong movies.

I was given the chance to sit down and watch "Flaming Brothers", so I did do that, of course. And I knew that Chow-Yun Fat was in the movie, so that was definitely a selling point. Not that I would need any convincing to sit down and watch this 1987 Hong Kong movie.

So how was it? Well, first of all I must say that this wasn't a defining movie in the Hong Kong cinema, nor was it a particular impressive notch on Chow-Yun Fat's acting career. This movie was bland and mediocre. Writers Jeffrey Lau and Kar-Wai Wong were trying to mix a full fledged drama with the over-the-top gun action that permeated the Hong Kong cinema in the late 1980s and early 1990s. So was that a good mix? No, not really.

The movie was too long, and it had surprisingly little to its storyline to warrant the things that director Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung set out to accomplish. I was left with a sensation of having somewhat wasted an hour and forty minutes on this movie. Sure, it was watchable, but it was also sort of disappointingly generic and mediocre.

While I have a big love for Hong Kong cinema, "Flaming Brothers" is hardly a movie that I will sit down and watch again. The mixture of drama, lovestory and hard-boiled action here just didn't make for a very potent concoction.

And the ending of the movie. Wow, seriously? That was just ludicrous. Definitely a massive anti-climatic way of ending the movie and providing a slap with a cold, dead fish to the audience that sat through the movie in the process.

My rating of "Flaming Brothers" lands on a very mediocre five out of ten stars. The movie is watchable and semi-enjoyable, but hardly an outstanding movie in any way.

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