Goodbye Mr. Cool
Reviewed by YTSL
The king is dead, and so is the Triad drama
genre! That, at any rate, is what I was inclined to think at the
conclusion of this mediocre 2001 Jingle Ma helmed effort that stars Ekin
Cheng (perhaps best known as Chan Ho Nam of the “Young and Dangerous” series
of films) and another Y&D luminary in Karen Mok (who especially enlivened
that series’ third installment with her portrayal of the preacher’s rebellious
daughter). On a less dramatic note: I hereby would like to
state my opinion that that which has apparently been hawked by some pirate
video dealers as “Young and Dangerous 7” -- i.e., the next movie after
“Born to Be the King” -- is absolutely not in the same league as the B.O.B.
productions helmed by Andrew Lau and Raymond Yip Wai Man.
While the world of GOODBYE MR. COOL is one
which is as Triad infested as that of the Y&D works, the movies really
do not have more than a few superficial similarities (if that at all).
For example, while Ekin Cheng’s character in the other films was someone
who was seen rising up the Triad ranks, the one that he plays in this Yeung
Sin Ling and Susan Chan co-scripted effort starts off in a high position
but soon is reduced to being a physically lame man and inmate in a Thai
prison (as a result of a botched assault attempt on a powerful Thai figure),
and spends most of the film trying to make a new life for himself that
is free of Triad ties, obligations and liabilities. More specifically,
the individual that various people continue to respectfully call “Mr. Cool”
or “Cool Dragon” after his release from prison and return to Hong Kong
just seems to be seriously as well as modestly intent on being not much
more than an honest busboy (in his friend Hong’s Kowloon Cafe) and good
father to a six year old boy whose mother is his ex-girlfriend (but still
may not be his biological son).
Cool’s bid to stay straight has the support of
a friend and benefactor of sorts (who did such as see to Cool’s father’s
funeral arrangements when he was serving jail time in Thailand).
Hong -- who is played by the ever watchable Lam Suet -- is himself a former
Triad, and has remained on speaking terms with a Triad “tai lo” who he
and Cool used to hang out with: The now inappropriately nicknamed
Long Hair (Chatman To’s character used to have long tresses but now has
a close cropped hair cut), who actually is among the substantial number
of at least middle ranking Triads who would like Cool to not only rejoin
the Triads but also be their boss.
As might be expected, the more senior members
of the gangster society are alternately suspicious and scornful of Cool’s
decision to wave “good bye” to their world. Two of them continue
to have particular cause to feel threatened by and jealous of him.
The first, an obviously despicable character known as Volcano (who is essayed
by Jackie Lui), is someone who would lose such men as Long Hair and those
who may feel greater loyalty to Long Hair than him, should Cool change
his mind and go back to his old ways. So you just know that he’s
going to find some opportunity to create trouble for Ekin Cheng’s character.
The second, a native Mandarin speaker referred to as Prince (who is portrayed
by Huang Pin Yuan, AKA Wong Ban Yuen on the HKMDB), is the Triad boss who
Cool’s (former) woman -- Macau Hung (who comes in the form of Karen Mok)
is now a major underworld wheeler-dealer in her own right -- shacked up
with when GOODBYE MR. COOL’s hero was stuck in a Thai prison. Although
he doesn’t seem to be that bad a man, the way the movie was going, it seemed
inevitable that he would end up going against Cool; and therein lies a
major problem with this work.
Put succinctly: Plot- and character-wise,
GOODBYE MR. COOL does not offer up anything innovative or new. Consequently,
so much of its story and course is thoroughly predictable. Also,
while the film’s first and last fights are quite good (by Triad drama standards),
the ones in the middle that are shown as dance style flashback sequences
are frankly quite awful plus pretty ridiculous as well as laughably weird.
All these faults pale however with the very negative characterization and
depiction of the three main females in this offering. One of them
(Macau Hung’s lieutenant, Jo Jo, who is played by Stephanie Che) is given
a criminally small amount of screen time. Another seems to change
personalities from scene to scene and really only be there to complicate
matters for Cool (Six year old Siu Lung’s young teacher, Ms. Mung, is essayed
by Rain Li). Worst of all, Macau Hung -- who also sometimes get referred
to as Helen in the English subtitles -- is too forcibly made out to be
a horribly irresponsible mother, terribly immature individual and all round
not particularly understandably problematic personality.
Although GOODBYE MR. COOL was directed by Jingle
Ma (whose “Tokyo Raiders” and “Summer Holiday” rank among my least favorite
Hong Kong movies), I nursed some hope that I would enjoy viewing this offering
because of it having Karen Mok -- as well as a few other actors and actresses
whose work I like (notably Lam Suet) -- in its cast. The thing with
Ms. Mok is that, in addition to being an interesting film presence, she
seems to have been far better at picking projects than many of her equally
talented contemporaries (like, say, Wu Chien-Lien or Michelle Reis).
As it turned out though, that which I think has by far the least attractive
character that she has portrayed turned out to be an unfortunate choice
of thirteenth Karen Mok movie for me to view as well as an altogether sub-par
piece of work that could put some people off all Triad dramas rather than
just this one.
My rating for this film: 4.5