HAVING shelved for more than a year, Herman Yau's long-delayed triad drama REBELLION has finally sees the light of its day after being re-edited into Category IIB from the original Category III version. Such bad publicity often signalled that this film is well on its way for the bargain bin, but surprisingly it's quite worth a look.
Set during a course of one fateful night, Po (Shawn Yue), the glum-looking bodyguard working for triad boss Jimmy (Calvin Poon) has just taken a night off for his birthday, While he is extremely drunk in a bar, Jummy gets shot up outside a gang hangout in a restaurant that same evening. With Jimmy's life is in critical condition and his influential wife Cheung Wah (Ada Choi) on her way back from Taiwan, temporary leadership takeover is needed to sustain the gang. Surprisingly, the leadership falls to Po, in which he is given a direct authorization from Cheung Wah. But Jimmy's number-two man Blackie (Chapman To) clearly disagrees with her decision to promote Po, especially given his drunken condition to lead anyone for now. Still Po doesn't care about power, other than finding out who ordered the hit on Jimmy. He suspects one of the five gangs in the Southern district has something to do with the murder attempt against Jimmy. Soon, accompanying Po is restaurant employee Ling (Elanne Kong), who tags along because she likes Po a lot and wants to help him whenever she can. As the clock is ticking, Po is chasing all over Kowloon to track down Jimmy's assailant while constantly running into interference from the rest of the gang, including Coffee (Paul Wong), Sand (Jun Kung) and Jupiter (Conroy Chan).
The good news about this film is, Herman Yau certainly knows how to make full use of the limited budget to keep his little picture as effectively told as possible. The race-against-the-time premise which set over the course of one night is nevertheless exhilarating, while Yau plants some solid ground for poking dark sense of ironic moments against the triad life.
Making use of the rating as well, is more-than-welcome inclusion of profanity-filled dialogues (the kind that has been sorely missed these days), sex and violence to make this otherwise lackluster triad drama all the more exciting to watch for.
The cast are fairly above-average, though lead actor Shawn Yue spends most of the time looking all glum and one-sided. Thankfully the rest of the supporting actors, compromising of music industry veterans and lesser-known actors (Jun Kung, Conroy Chan, Paul Wong, Anson Leung) are colorful enough to give the film some extra edge. But of all, it was Chapman To gives the most juicy role as the violent and foul-mouthed Blackie, while Ada Choi's much-publicized cameo appearance (who has been absent from films since 2004) is quite credible.
Despite its entertaining moments, it's rather disappointing to see Herman Yau goes overly ambitious with the unnecessary third-act twist that subsequently reveals the purpose of the whole story.
Not a great triad drama by any means but at the very least, for a low-budget quickie like REBELLION, it's certainly quite a treat for genre fans.