Triads: The Inside Story

Reviewed by: sukting

August 17, 2010

Rating: three

How long
1.5 hours

Can you accept Chow Yun Fatt to become an intellectual who knows no martial arts or shooting skills in a gangster movie? This movie offers some insight into it. I watched it with my cousin in the cinema.

Story/Introduction on characters

A dragon dance ceremony is presented as a triad gang promises to wipe out Hung Hing triad. Lee Kwan (Tien Fung), the head of the Hung Hing triad, is pleased that his son, Mun Ho (Chow Yun-Fat), is doing well in the U.S. Mun Ho is with his wife Jenny,(Suet Chi Lun)and son Zou. He urges Kwan to retire to stay with him.

Kwan is killed on a trip to Macau. The negotiation with another triad fails and blood sheds everywhere by choppers. He is being ferried back to Hong Kong by Crazy Keung (Shing Kuai On) and Tse Shing (Chan Wai Mun). Before his death, he tells the two not to involve Mun Ho into the triad matters. Mun Ho gets a call from Shing's wife Kuen (Mak Kit Mun) to attend the funeral.

It is a grand style when gangsters from many triads start to stroll in. Mun Ho gets very bad tempered and scolds his son for complaining to wear the hot mourning clothes. Kuen and Jenny have to console him as they know how important Kwan is to him. With the leader now gone, the other triads are salivating at the thought of taking Hung Hing territory.

With Hung Hing in a mess, the other leaders of Hung Hing try to convince Ho to stay as the leader. Mun Ho expresses no interest and intends to return to the U.S. soon. If he is keen, he would not have set up a property firm after completing his studies in the U.S. instead.

He discusses with Jenny when both have a walk. Jenny finds Hong Kong beautiful and doesn't mind staying longer. Just then, gangsters start to whistle to them and calling them an adulterous pair. Unknown to them, the other triad leaders are planning to ambush him. So are the cops also watching on him. Inspector Chan (Tsang Kong) hints to him not to get involved.

Suddenly, the other triad members attack him and are dismayed to discover that he doesn't know any martial arts. He only knows how to get Jenny to lock herself in the car while he runs for his own life. If not for Yeung Kong (Cheung Yiu Yeung), he could have lost his life. Kong starts to think lowly of Mun Ho.

After this ordeal and making a police report, he is more than adamant to leave Hong Kong. But the others wish him to stay on. How can he not do anything as the only successor? So Mun Ho decides to stay temporarily be the Hung Hing head for a short time. What he does raises eyebrows to the conservative members, creating a lot of tension.

He makes peace with the other triads and also expands the Hung Hing legal business. He makes profit eventually. He also does some things beyond imagination. That is to cooperate with Inspector Chan to discourage teenager recruiting. He also seeks medical help for the wounded. However, in triad society, fighting between enemies from all triads is unavoidable. His business is attacked and Hung Hing is blamed.

Jenny worries for Mun Ho when he is often being attacked and suggests returning to U.S. He agrees and passes the post to the experienced Shing. Kong is brought up by Kwan like a son but he has never liked Shing. Mun Ho is daring enough to face the leaders of other groups and successfully settles some disputes. Everyone has confidence in him. But Mun Ho insists that he will not join them.

Shing also decides to reject the job as his focus is on his family. So Kong starts to act recklessly to try to spur Mun Ho to stay on as the head forever. When Mun Ho sets an enemy Coffin Rope (Lung Ming Yan) free even though he kills a Hung Hing member, Kong is not satisfied. People also find him too soft to want to distant himself from crime. He loses his temper and has a fight with Shing during a feast. Shing is later murdered and Crazy Keung mistakenly believes that Kong is the murderer.

When Keung finds Kong, he dies accidentally. Kong knows that Hung Hing will not let him go easily. He joins a gang lead by Chow Sai Lin (Bao Hon Lam)without thinking and helps them to smuggle vehicles. Sai Lam and Coffin Rope conspire to frame Kong by planting drugs into his car. They call the police.

Mun Ho learns about this and he rushes to the terminal. However, it is too late. Kong is already detained by police. Mun Ho finds out that Sai Lam is the one who killed his father. He rushes out of the police stztion with Kong and kills him. Kong is grateful to Mun Ho for helping him and tells the police he is the murderer.

Most favourite character
Not the indecisive Mun Ho but Kong. Although he is reckless, no one can deny that he is a faithful follower and leads the life his likes.

Most hated character
Mun Ho, if not for his folly to let Coffin Rope go, the deaths can be omitted.

Chow Yun Fat sings the Cantonese version of 「飛沙風中轉」while the original song writer Luo Da Yu sings the Mandarin version. It is nominated for best theme song at 1989 Hong Kong film awards. After listening to it, you will know why. The tune is easy to remember and sing. Due to this outstanding movie, it brings out the helpless but able to let it go after going through a lot in life.


The story is complicated and states how cruel the inner struggles in the underworld can be. The way they carry out punishment is condemned and scary but Chan Wai Mun, being an ex-triad member gave a very good storyline. It is a surprise to see Chow Yun Fatt in such a subdue role. He isn't brave or chivalrous but uses his brains instead of brawns to settle issues. But I am not used to it as I prefer to see him as a gangster.

Although Mun Ho is a good brother, he isn't a suitable boss. Although he ruins his father's triad, he wins approval of his triad brothers due to his pleasant personality. This is the same as winning loyalty by hearts. This movie talks about loyalty and is brought up adequately. The cast has done an excellent job. After watching this movie, I did not watch ‘Young and dangerous' in the cinema as I view this movie as a classic with the realistic facts. I will encourage all to rent or buy this movie to watch.

Sukting's ratings :

On acting : ***1/2 (Scale of 5)

On story : *** (Scale of 5)

On songs : **** (Scale of 5)

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