Days of Being Dumb

If you ever feel that you have seen one too many violent triad films, this UFO production can act as a very silly antidote. It is a broad but very funny parody of not so much the triads themselves as the films about the triads. In a world where every young boy wants to grow up to be like their favorite triad movie character such as Chow Yun Fat in A Better Tomorrow or Ray Lui in To Be Number One, this film amusingly skewers their rituals, their codes and their heroic image.

The humor is very gag driven – sort of on the level of Airplane – but it is saved from getting tiresome due to the charming performances from Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Jacky Cheung. They make a wonderful comic team here and play off each other to hilarious effect at times. Often it looks as if they are doing everything they can to stop themselves from laughing.

The two of them have wanted to be successful triad members since they were small boys sharpening knives and running numbers – and Jacky’s father whacks him for wasting his time studying when he should be training for a real future in the triads. Unfortunately having an aversion to violence or blood – and basically being kind hearted and somewhat cowardly – along with a large dose of incompetency makes advancement in the triads very difficult!

So when they are sent out to collect loans from debtors – they instead end up giving them money or when ordered to cut a body into 99 – no more - no less – pieces they instead sink the boat by mistake because their eyes were closed.

In a large gang fight – they slowly work their way to the very back and ala Zu Warriors – pretend to fight each other – and finally end up sitting at a café watching the fight. There they read the paper and make observations such as why is so and so fighting on his knees “ah, because his legs have been cut off”.

Their goal is to make it on the cover of the Triad Weekly, but they keep being forced to go from gang to gang as their triad leaders keep getting killed. In one scene they are the official car starters to make sure there are no bombs attached and are happily high-fiving one another for surviving when their boss gets blown up behind them.

Eventually they gain a reputation as the two jinxes and no triad will let them join – in fact everyone rapidly clears out of a restaurant as soon as they enter. So they decide to become pimps and import Anita Yuen from Singapore to be their first prostitute. Only problem is that she is not a hooker – and prefers women! –  but the guys love her anyway.

Their final opportunity comes in the form of the biggest Triad leader of them all – Kwan – who wants to show the world that he is so powerful that nothing can hurt him – not even the red and white jinxes as they come to be known. Oh, big mistake.
I continuously found myself laughing at much of this – it is all so good-natured – and just plain silly from antics such as the tattoos they paint on one another to having to prick their fingers in a triad oath of brotherhood to the closing credits as the camera pulls back and the set is dismantled.

This was UFO’s first film and it was directed very smoothly by Peter Chan. Of course, Tony, Anita and Eric Tsang (who has a supporting role) were to be used in many of their future films. This was also Anita’s film debut and though her part is secondary – she immediately displays her quirky charm and short haired style that was to make her a big star within the next few years.

My rating for this film: 7.5