Young and Dangerous 6: Born to be King is the latest chapter in the Young and Dangerous series, which began in 1996 and has become something of a phenomenon in Hong Kong. There have been so many sequels, prequels, and spin-offs that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Having heard so much about the series, I’ve finally decided to take a look at this latest edition. (Although considering the rate at which the filmmakers have churned out these movies I’m sure there are probably two or three other installments in the series out by now, making Part 6 no longer “the latest.” But I digress…)
Headlining Young and Dangerous 6 is Ekin Cheng, who plays Chan Ho Nam, a high-level gangster in a Hong Kong criminal organization. Joining Cheng is Jordan Chan as Chicken, a high-level gangster in a Taiwanese criminal organization and Nam’s best friend. When Chicken’s gang decides to form an alliance with their Japanese counterpart, Chicken enters into an arranged marriage with the Japanese leader’s daughter. Everything is going smoothly until the son of the Taiwanese gang’s deceased leader arrives in town with an ulterior motive. It seems the little American-educated tyke (Peter Ho) wants to take over daddy’s old gang and he’s willing to betray and double-cross everyone who gets in his way. And Chicken happens to be directly in his path…
To say you need a scorecard to understand everything and everyone in Young and Dangerous 6 is not an exaggeration. The movie is very hard to follow in the beginning, not because it’s a complex film with deep themes, but because there’s so much dialogue and background information to digest. People talk and talk and talk and more and more information is dished out, and just when you don’t think you can handle anymore information, even more information is dished out.
When you’ve finally understood what’s going on, it becomes clear Young and Dangerous 6 is a movie with weak plotting. Unfortunately, it’s a movie with weak plotting but with a lot of previous history. That isn’t to say you will be completely lost with Young and Dangerous 6, because the story, once you become familiar with the players and situation, is quite easy to follow. In a nutshell, there are 3 separate criminal gangs at play here: the Hong Kong gang led by Ekin Cheng’s Nam, the Taiwanese gang, of which Chicken is a high-ranking member of, and the Japanese gang, led by Kusaraki (Sonny Chiba).
Enter Lui, played by a much-too-young and not-convincing-for-a-second Peter Ho, who dares to plot and murder his way to the top. Lui begins his power play by framing Chicken and allying himself with Akira, the stepson of Kusaraki, who is in love with Nanako, who just happens to be the new Mrs. Chicken.
Young and Dangerous 6 is not actually a bad movie. It’s very well made, the acting is sometimes very good, and director Wai Keung Lau has done so many of these films that he has a firm handle on the “world” that they take place in. Lau employs quite a few gimmicks and camera tricks, and some work, but others don’t. (Which leaves me to add that I’m beginning to doubt very much that Ekin Cheng knows any martial arts at all, because there hasn’t been a movie yet that the man has starred in where he performs martial arts without “special” aides.)
Young and Dangerous 6 is actually only interesting when Jordan Chan’s Chicken is its main focus. This is a problem because Ekin Cheng has top billing and as a result he appears for about half of the movie for no other reason except to be seen.
Also along for the ride is Mei Ling, Nam’s girlfriend, played by actress Qi Shu, whose voice sounds just like what a rusty nail scratching down a blackboard for two hours straight might sound like. Shu, who must be in her ’20s, acts and sounds like a spoiled 12-year old brat, quite literally whining her way through the movie. Her scenes with Nam are annoying to say the least; the woman can damage eardrums with her incessant screeching — er, I mean, talking.
Wai Keung Lau (director) / Manfred Wong (screenplay)
CAST: Ekin Cheng …. Chan Ho-Nam
Sonny Chiba …. Isako Kusaraki
Qi Shu …. Mei Ling