Street Gangs of Hong Kong (1974)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Street Gangs of Hong Kong often feels like a throwback to the juvenile delinquency exposés that Hollywood produced in the 1950s. It's got a well-meaning lad who is led down the primrose path by veteran crooks, a gruff father whose tough-love ways are ultimately his undoing, and a general theme of "crime doesn't pay"; however, Street Gangs of Hong Kong filters these concepts through the lens of 1970s Hong Kong pop filmmaking so kung fu, a bit of bare flesh, and plenty of red, red blood is thrown into the mix. The end result often borders on camp melodrama -- particularly the over-the-top relationship between Wang Chung and his father -- but the film is redeemed by its intensity and style. Kuei Chih-Hong (directing in collaboration with Chang Cheh) adds a barrage of stylized visuals to pep up the sometimes-formulaic storyline, including some fast-paced editing that anticipates the style of music videos. Better yet, he assembles a jaw-dropping final half-hour for the film, culminating in a series of fights that are so brutal, they can literally exhaust the viewer. In short, Street Gangs of Hong Kong may be a little too dated and theatrical in its dramatic approach for modern sensibilities, but its frenzied sense of style and its gritty finale make it worth watching for fans of vintage kung fu films.