Love Among The Triad (1993)
Directed by: Andy Chin
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Nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1994:
Triad head Ching (Simon Yam) may be involved, romantically and business-wise, with Kwok Hoi Lam (Rosamund Kwan) in order to to acquire and come to terms in a share deal regarding a newly opened casino but underneath all talk of profits, his yearning is instead for singer Cecilia (Cecilia Yip). She is the mistress of Ching's partner in crime, the hot headed Tong (Vincent Wan), information not known to his wife Sue (Veronica Yip), sister of Ching...
Andy Chin in no way is really distinct as a director, possessing no trademark visual flourishes in his work or outstanding genre classics on his resume. However, he's got a knack for entertaining in his colourless ways but when Call Girl 92 was screened before me, I was in for the shock of my life. Here was another hostess movie but with actual profound drama and with high caliber performances, in particular from the female leads. So the busy schedule of Chin's at this time didn't allow for an immediate reunion of the main cast that gelled so well in the 1992 movie but with Love Among The Triad in 1993, it happened. Chin logs notable if not masterful genre work here but further cements that his skill with actors in drama territory is vastly underrated. Plus being a director that almost always opts for synch sound is a great benefit for his productions, almost taking on a rare professionalism when almost all movies in the same genre did the usual post-dubbing.
For sure, Love Among The Triad lives up to its name and the initiative to break from the set in stone mould of triad movies is very welcome. For sure also is that this is soap opera drama with better performers than you see on TV but Chin, along with co-writers Joey Cheung and Elizabeth Lau, are not the most refined when it comes to revealing intentions. In fact, his valid and actually quite good intentions come late in his focus on deceitful relationships within the lethal triad world.
Triad brawls and conflicts does come with this script but thankfully not at the expense of the main character drama. Chin clearly knows that his characters are not original for the genre (the sexy mistresses and wives) but by expanding on their roles within this framework, there's a slight degree of rarely seen freshness. You have either sexy wives acting little or equally much as business profiles or just vamps in the background, hoping for a little love and that starting point is interesting if you go into a production to focus on that alone. In truth and perhaps wisely, Chin and company attempts no subtlety but achieves fairly believable drama as they've cast some delightful performers with depth at the best of times.
Because a key word here is subtle interplay, a direction Chin is highly adept at executing and as the web of desire and love reaches its fever pitch, the film gladly turns away from the triad world because it matters not during those moments. The lethal points of the triad world come sporadically and with the territory, no one denies that, but it's quite touching how the characters do try and create love lives for themselves, in a humane way. Even when all goes into hysteric mode, which was not a case in Call Girl 92, Chin has already logged several memorable interactions on a subtle level between characters that makes this drama choice more effective than it should've been.
In fact, same goes for Love Among The Triad as it's populated with clichés and the content of these intertwining romances shouldn't appear fresh as such in anyone's eyes. Enter Simon Yam, Veronica Yip, Vincent Wan, Cecilia Yip and Rosamund Kwan, all bringing experience to avoid the character familiarity and making the drama not so much reach poignant but emotional places that easily could've equaled flat free fall with lesser talent. But credit goes out to director Andy Chin who doesn't top his absolute creative high in the form of Call Girl 92 but gives us a fairly unusual and focused story, considering the material. Eventually...
Ocean Shores disappointingly but also expectedly presents the film cropped from its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio to 1.33:1. Moderate damage is apparent, some spots worse than others but the print is rather grainy, dark and flat because of those traits. Damage to compositions due to the cropping of the frame is not a heavy duty issue however.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Cantonese synch sound track sounds adequate with fairly clear dialogue but with no real dynamic as such. A Mandarin 2.0 dub is also available.
Being sourced from a cinema print, the Chinese/English subtitles are imbedded but provides a translation that is easily followed, despite ropey grammar and spelling from time to time. Cropping of the subtitles rarely becomes a problem. No setup menu, chapter index or extras are included.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson