After five films, three official spinoffs, and a prequel, the Young and Dangerous saga comes to a proper close with this very exciting finale that revolves around more than just the Hung Hing boys, but add to the mix the Taiwanese triads and the Japanese Yakuza.
Chicken has been asked by the members of the Taiwanese San Luen gang to marry Nanako Kusaragi. Nanako is the daughter of Ichiro Kusaragi, the fifth generation head of the Japanese Yamada gang. Chan Ho-Nam and the rest of the Hung Hing gang head to Japan for the ceremony. While Ho-Nam’s girlfriend Mei Ling is constantly pressuring him to marry her, he still can’t help but holds his heart for his late true love, Smartie.
Attending the ceremony is Lui Fu-Kwan, who is the son of the late San Luen boss Lui Kung. Aside from the wedding, everyone in Hung Hing gets the shock of a lifetime when boss Chiang Tin-Yeung decides to retire to Thailand and decides to make Nam the new Hung Hing boss. Ichiro hopes that Chicken, who is now his son-in-law, will eventually become the new head of the Yamada gang, which irritates Nanako’s foster brother Akira, who is Chinese. What Hung Hing and Yamada soon will realize is that someone in the San Luen gang is plotting to take over the entire Asian triad world under their iron fist. To make matters worse, in a drunken rage, Akira has raped Nanako and Nam has even found a young woman in Taiwan who looks exactly like Smartie. What will happen when the three gangster worlds collide into an all-out war?
After an abysmal fifth installment, the Young and Dangerous saga took some turns from 1998 to 2000. We get the origin of the friends in Young and Dangerous: The Prequel. Proving to be a popular character, Sandra Ng’s Sister 13 had her own origin story in Portland Street Blues. Anthony Wong’s Tai Fei had his own spinoff-sequel with The Legendary Tai Fei. Finally, to make up for his absence in the fifth film, Chicken had his own prequel-spinoff story in Those Were the Days. All those lead up to this fitting finale of the saga, which brings virtually everyone back in one form or another.
The focus may seem to be on Chicken as with the second and fourth installments. However, for this to really work, an even split time between Chan Ho-Nam and Chicken is necessary and that’s exactly what we have here. Both Chicken and Ho-Nam deal with perhaps love but on opposite sides of the spectrum. At first, Chicken only marries Nanako because of a deal between San Luen and Yamada gang. However, it is after her one near-tragic incident that Chicken really decides to give his new married life a chance as he feels love for the first time in a while. As for Ho-Nam, it is the opposite. Unable to let go of his feelings for Smartie, it eventually destroys his relationship with Shu Qi’s Mei Ling as a major complication is in the return of Gigi Lai, who plays teacher Tuan-Mu Ruo Yu, a doppelganger of Smartie. It must be said that Shu Qi comes off as annoying as Mei Ling in this film with his constant nagging and pressuring towards Ho-Nam to take their relationship to the next level.
However, the real story comes in the form of a potential war between Triads and Yakuza. The reason? It goes like this. San Luen, the Taiwan group, has Chicken marry Nanako, the daughter of Yamada Gang boss Kusaragi, played wonderfully by The Street Fighter himself, Sonny Chiba. Yamada also wants to work with Hung Hing, now led by Ho-Nam after boss Chiang retires. However, the struggle goes from internally within San Luen to affecting all three gangs as one person plans to unite those three, along with another Taiwan gang, the Black Dragon gang, led by former kung fu film star Don Wong, under his iron fist, or they will be eliminated. As with the saga, expect double-crosses and assassinations.
In true fashion, some of the original cast members return to new roles in this installment. As mentioned, Gigi Lai returns in a new role that is meant to be what it is. Roy Cheung, the show stopper in Young and Dangerous 3 and 4, plays the Chinese-born foster brother of Nanako, Akira. Michael Tse (Dai Tin-Yee in Young and Dangerous 1-4) plays the best friend of Peter Ho’s Lui Fu-Kwan, Michael. Jason Chu (Chou-Pan in Young and Dangerous and Banana Skin in Young and Dangerous 2-5) also returns as Jason, who is an assassin for the villain of the piece.
Born to be King is truly a fitting end of the original Young and Dangerous saga. The focus clearly is on both Ho-Nam and Chicken as they deal with their issues in love and power as they end up in what could be their most dangerous struggle.
WFG RATING: B
Golden Harvest Pictures (China) presents an Artwell Productions Limited production. Director: Andrew Lau. Producer: Manfred Wong. Writers: Manfred Wong and Candy Cheng; based on the comic “Teddy Boy” by Cow Man. Cinematography: Andrew Lau. Editing: Danny Pang.
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Jordan Chan, Shu Qi, Gigi Lai, Sonny Chiba, Peter Ho, Alex Man, Jerry Lamb, Chin Kar-Lok, Chin Shih-Chieh, Chen Sung-Yung, Sandra Ng, Vincent Wan, Roy Cheung, Anya,
Blacky Ko, Michael Tse, Jason Chu, George Wang, Don Wong.