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Film / Rich and Famous

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Rich and Famous is a 1987 Hong Kong gangster drama starring Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau and Alex Man. Released in the same year as its sequel, Tragic Hero, but coming out a few months prior despite being chronologically set before, its one of the many Hong Kong films made in the boom of late-80s/early-90s Heroic Bloodshed cinema ever since A Better Tomorrow kicked off the genre a few years prior.

Lam Ting-kwok (Andy Lau) and Tang Kar-yung (Alex Man) are sworn brothers growing up together in the seedy streets of Hong Kong, and aspires to make it big in life after being introduced to the life of mobsters by their cousin Mak Ying-hung (Alan Tam). Through a series of misadventures, all three men ends up joining the triad empire of benevolent mob boss, Lee Ah-Chai (Chow Yun-fat).

Four years later, Kwok is happy with his life as one of Chai's most trusted subordinates. Chai will be married to his long-time girlfriend and fiancee, Po-yee. But Yung, once the sworn brother of Kwok, had ambitions to usurp Chai of his position of power.


Tropes associated with this work:

  • Aloof Big Brother: Inverted; as kids, Yung, the elder brother, is the one who’s always getting into trouble, and Kwok is the one who had to bail him out.
  • Animal Lover: Chai, despite being a gangster and mob leader, do have a soft spot for animals. In a Pet the Dog moment near the end of the film, Chai and Po-yee picks up a small puppy that was left out in the rain and adopts it.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Right at the final act of the film, Yung’s thirst for power and a high-ranking position in the triads results in his Face–Heel Turn. Not that he’s a good character prior to the end of the movie…
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Chai in all his scenes. Being a mob leader played by none other than Chow Yun-fat, that’s a given.
  • Bash Brothers: Yung and Kwok. Until the former begin his Start of Darkness.
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  • Benevolent Boss: Lee Ah-Chai, who treats his underlings like family and frequently practices - and emphasizes - importance of brotherhood in the triads.
  • Blood Brothers: Kwok have always considered Yung to be this to him, until realizing Yung’s true nature near the end of the film. Kwok, Ma and Chai is a better fit as an example.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Po-yee in her final scene, as she took a bullet meant for Chai when assassins try to kill them during their wedding. She does survive the movie though.
  • Car Fu:
    • Near the climax, there’s an assassination attempt on Kwok’s life, where mobsters doused Kwok’s vehicle with gasoline and sets it on fire. Kwok simply drives off even as the vehicle is burning, and crashes into an enemy vehicle while jumping out, causing an explosion that destroys his pursuers.
    • After the attempted wedding day assassination, Chai and his bride Po-yee makes a quick escape on their car, still decorated by ribbons and flowers for the wedding ceremony, while being pursued by the assassins on another vehicle. Chai ends up crashing when his pursuers force his vehicle off a cliff, but both Chai and Po-yee survives.
  • The Don: Chow Yun-fat’s character, Lee Ah-Chai, a powerful triad leader who owns much of the territory in downtown Hong Kong, but also A Father to His Men who offers Mak, Yung and Kwok a position of power in his triad.
  • Fingore: Invoked, early on in the movie Yung gets himself cornered by gangsters he had pissed off, who threatens to cut his finger off. But Kwok manage to talk the rival gang leader out of it.
  • Gangland Drive-By: How Chai arrives to reinforce his men in the shootout mid-movie, firing from behind a van with dual firearms at enemy gangsters, while one of his henchmen drives the van through the courtyard where the shootout is taking place.
  • Guns Akimbo: Luk, Chu, and several of Chai’s men dual wields pistols during the big shootout that happens at the end of the first act. Chai himself notably gets to reinforce his men while firing a revolver and an Uzi simultaneously (as seen on the poster above).
  • Improvised Weapon: At the end of the movie, in order to stop Yung from killing Chai, Mak is forced to beat down his former sworn brother using a ripped-off vehicle bumper.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Before the big shootout in the first act, one of Chai’s men gets ambushed and shot in the temple by a silenced pistol from less than 5 meters away. Rather than his entire head being blown off, instead there’s a small puff of a squib going off, then a pencil-thick trickle of High-Pressure Blood spraying sideways.
    • Later on when Yung reveals his true colours after killing Uncle Fan, he then kills Uncle Fan’s number two by shooting him in the forehead from point-blank. Again, with just a tiny little red puff going off on his forehead, and nothing else.
  • Razor Floss: Part of Uncle Fan’s Undignified Death, being strangled by Yung using a wire garotte while urinating, and end up pissing all over himself.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yung, the hot-tempered elder brother who acts before thinking of the consequences and always ends up in trouble, is the red, while mild-mannered, calm and patient Kwok is the blue.
  • Romantic Rain: Featured in the romantic bonding between Chai and Po-yee, as they walked through pouring rain under Chai’s umbrella.
  • Staircase Tumble: Happens to Chai and Po-yee when they are shot on their wedding while atop a flight of stairs, with him taking the brunt of the blow by using his body to shield her as they fall.
  • Time Skip: The first act is concluded by a four-year skip from 1967 to 1971, depicting Yung and Kwok’s life in the triad and the position of powers they have achieved.
  • Wedding Smashers: The entire climax is a shootout between Chai and Yung’s men who are sent to kill him and his wife during their wedding ceremony.