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