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Film / Young and Dangerous

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Based on a popular Hong Kong Manhua called Teddy Boy, Young and Dangerous is a series of live-action films detailing the various underground societies of the city. The films primarily contributed to the image of the triads and was condemned by circles as over-glorifying these secret societies. Regardless, the popularity of the films led to a total of 10 sequels and Spinoffs. The films also became a foothold for establishing its acting casts into mainstream Hong Kong actors.

The main series and spinoffs (in order of release) are as follows:

  • Young and Dangerous (1995)
    • The series begins with Chan Ho Nam (Ekin Cheng), "Chicken" Chiu (Jordan Chan), Tai Tin Yee (Michael Tse), Bao Pei (Jerry Lam) and his brother Chou Pei (Jason Chu) joining the "Hung Hing" society in their teens, quickly leading up to their young adult years. The plot of the story involves internal struggling of control within Hung Hing, where "Ugly Kwan" (Francis Ng) successfully yanks the position of Chairman away and takes it for himself.
  • Young and Dangerous 2 (1996)
    • The story in the first sequel is told in two parts: the first is a Flashback regarding Chicken and his self-imposed exile to Taiwan during the previous film; the second returns to the present where the Hung Hing society attempts to align with Chicken's Taiwanese triad "San Luen". At the same time, the branch leadership for Hong Kong's Causeway Bay district is underway, with Ho Nam the top candidate, but a rivalry ensues between him and fellow Hung Hing member "Tai Fei" (Anthony Wong).
  • Young and Dangerous 3 (1996)
    • For the first time in the series, a rival triad in Hong Kong, "Tung Sing", begins usurping Hung Hing influence in the city. To that end, Tung Sing member "Crow" (Roy Cheung) frames Ho Nam for the murder of Hung Hing Chairman Chiang Tin Sung (Simon Yam). Meanwhile, Chicken finds a new Love Interest in Shuk Fan "Wasabi" (Karen Mok), daughter of the comedic, Badass Preacher Father "Lethal Weapon" Lam.
  • Once Upon a Time in Triad Society (1996)
    • A semi-Spinoff of the franchise, the story tells of Ugly Kwan's rise and fall in the Hong Kong triads. While Francis Ng reprises his role as Kwan and Father Lam makes a cameo appearance, the plot does not necessarily mesh well with canon events.
  • Young and Dangerous 4 (1997)
    • Also called Young and Dangerous 97, when branch leadership is open for the Tuen Mun district, Chicken begins his campaign for it, but fellow Hung Hing member "Barbarian" also wants it. To that end, he resorts to ruthless Tung Sing member Yiu Yeung (Roy Cheung) for help in his candidacy. With Chairman Chiang Tin Sung dead, the Hung Hing society decides to elect Chiang's younger brother Chiang Tin Yeung (Alex Man). This movie brings previously established characters who appear on-screen for the first time: Ben Hon (Wan Yeung Ming), "Sister 13" (Sandra Ng) and "Prince".
  • Young and Dangerous 5 (1998)
    • Also called Young and Dangerous 98, the rival Tung Sing society returns to cause trouble again for Hung Hing, in the form of new leader Szeto Ho Nam (Mark Cheng). The backdrop for the film involves the transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty back to China, with the focus being Ho Nam and his friends maturing from "boys" into "men", as they develop more formal, business-like dealings.
  • Portland Street Blues (1998)
    • The first official Spin-Off, Portland Street Blues provides a contrast to its predecessors by focusing on Sister 13 and her facing the trials and tribulations of rising to become Hung Hing's branch leader of Portland Street in the Mong Kok district, alongside her willingness to forgo a heterosexual relationship. Set sometime before Young and Dangerous 5, the film also gives more details and insights on the rival Tung Sing society and the mutual friendship between Sister 13 and Ben Hon.
  • Young and Dangerous: The Prequel (1998)
    • Showcasing the earlier years of Ho Nam (Nicholas Tse) and Chicken (Sam Lee), this Prequel tells of their earlier years and willingness to follow Hung Hing's "Uncle Bee".
  • The Legendary Tai Fei (1999)
    • In this Spin-Off, after Tai Fei obtains branch leadership status of the North Point district in Young and Dangerous 4, he discovers he has a son. Worse yet, his son is a member of the hated Tung Sing triad, now dealing in narcotics.
  • Those Were the Days... (2000)
    • This semi-Prequel follows the life of Chicken before he joined the Hung Hing society. The film co-stars Gigi Leung as Chicken's childhood friend.
  • Born to be King (2000)
    • Canonically the last installment to the series, Born to be King, or better known as Young and Dangerous 6, begins with Chicken set to marry Nanako Kusaraki, the daughter of Japanese Yakuza boss Isako Kusaraki (Sonny Chiba), to tie relationships between the Taiwanese San Luen triad and Kurasaki's "Yamada Clan". When Chicken is set up and framed again for murder, he seeks his old friends from Hung Hing to clear his name. Like Young and Dangerous 5, the 2000 Taiwan presidential elections serves as the backdrop for the film.

Tropes associated with Young and Dangerous are:

  • Arc Words: "The government has its laws; the society has its own."
  • Arranged Marriage: The kicker to Born to be King
  • Ax-Crazy: Ugly Kwan and Crow; Yiu Yeung might count, thanks to his penchant of listening to classical music while having people thrown off of buildings.
  • Badass Preacher: Father "Lethal Weapon" Lam, who, aside from being an ex-triad member, kicks Ugly Kwan, the most powerful person in Hung Hing at the time, in the face when he doesn't admit to causing Uncle Bee's death. Lam totally gets away with it.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Chicken and Wasabi, Ho Nam and Mei Ling (at first)
  • Benevolent Boss, Reasonable Authority Figure: Both the Chiang siblings - the elder was willing to relinquish his position as Chairman to Ugly Kwan without confrontation (likely because he didn't want a Civil War among Hung Hing to spill out onto the streets) and was willing to split the losses from money stolen with Ho Nam during his candidacy for Causeway Bay; the younger, although somewhat reluctant to replace his brother as leader of the society, returned because he felt a sense of filial piety to uphold.
    • Not to mention both men actually reward those working for them.
    • Lui Gong, San Luen's leader, in Young and Dangerous 2 might count: while it seems doubtful he would allow an exiled Chicken to join his society, Chicken proved his worth by assassinating a rival politician, earning Lui Gong's trust, even promoting Chicken to branch leader. Subverted later when he reveals he was simply using Chicken as a bridge between Hung Hing and San Luen to seize control of Macau's gambling spots away from Hung Hing.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The first film has dialogues in Cantonese, Hakka and English. In Young and Dangerous 2, spoken languages include Cantonese, Mandarin and Taiwanese. Born to be King featured no less than 5 languages.
    • Gratuitous Foreign Languages: Dutch in Young and Dangerous 3, Thai in Young and Dangerous 4, Malay in Young and Dangerous 5 and Japanese in Born to be King.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ting Yiu in Young and Dangerous 2
  • Butch Lesbian: Sister 13, somewhat
    • Given the implication in Born to be King she and Ben Hon got married some time before the film, this might a subversion.
  • Callback: See Arc Words
  • Cigar Chomper: Chiang Tin Yeung all the time
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Cantonese, after all, is known for its colorful swear words.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Smartie carjacks Ho Nam's Toyota MR2, so he and his buddies kidnap and take her to the mountains late in the night to punish her. She's given a choice - either let them rape her or finish eating a couple dozen barbeque pork buns. She chooses the latter.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Ho Nam and his friends in the first film, until Chou Pei gets Killed Off for Real. In Young and Dangerous 4, while masquerading as a high school substitute teacher, Ho Name calls out the students for over-glorifying this lifestyle.
  • Darker and Edgier: Young and Dangerous 3 begins ascending the death toll among recurring characters; later films make it clear not even the main cast is entirely immune to harm.
  • Death of a Child: In the first film when Ugly Kwan has Uncle Bee and his entire family killed.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Yeesh, Fat Lai - if only you didn't interfere in Ho Nam and Yiu Yeung's fight, you wouldn't be exiled to Albania.
  • Dream Team: In-Universe example - Isako proposes an alliance between the financially powerful Hung Hing, San Luen and the Yamada clan. It's implied in the ending of Born to be King that all three societies agree to this.
  • Drugs Are Bad: In contrast to Tung Sing, it's Hung Hing's policy they do not handle the flow of drugs in the underground for Hong Kong. The exception is when Ugly Kwan was Chairman, but he was notably more corrupt than Chiang Tin Sung.
  • Dual Wielding: Wasabi handles two vegetable cleavers in her brief Action Girl stint in Young and Dangerous 3.
  • Extremity Extremist: Prince, who's a kick-boxer
  • Field Promotion: Ho Nam goes from Uncle Bee's leading enforcer to branch leader of Wan Chai to branch leader of Causeway Bay to the most trusted lieutenant of Chairman Chiang by Young and Dangerous 5, all in the span of 3 years. By Born to be King, Chiang steps down to retire and promotes Ho Nam to leader of the Hung Hing society.
    • Similarly, Chicken: another of Bee's top enforcers to branch leader of one of San Luen's districts to branch leader of Tuen Mun in the same amount of time as Ho Nam. In Born to be King, he marries Nanako, with implications from Isako that after he retires, Chicken will be leader of the Yamada clan.
  • First Love: Smartie for Ho Nam, Ting Yiu for Chicken
    • Second Love: Mei Ling for Ho Nam, but winds up becoming a Deconstruction, as Ho Nam hasn't learned to let go of Smartie, not even a look-a-like of her in Born to be King. Mei Ling was simply there when he needed someone.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Genki Girl: Mei Ling
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Anyone who's part of the triad smokes; no exceptions. Averted beginning with Young and Dangerous 5 when Ho Nam decides to quit.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    • At the start of Young and Dangerous 2, Ho Nam celebrates opening a new bar and an oblivious city councilor (likely there to make good rapport with its owner) is present at the celebrations. Father Lam is also there, reminding the councilor he is among a known triad. When the councilor asks Lam why a man of the cloth is associated with gangsters, Father Lam answers "I'm not like you: my boss is Jesus!"
    • In Young and Dangerous 5, Chairman Chiang wonders why Ho Nam isn't smoking anymore. Ho Nam says he quit; Chiang says that's a good thing, then immediately offers Ho Nam a cigar.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Barbarian's ousted for sabotaging Chicken's campaign during the election debate in Young and Dangerous 4, he denies the claims and spills he had nothing to do with working alongside Yiu Yeung. Naturally, no one else in Hung Hing, aside from "Fat Lai", whom Barbarian was collaborating with, knew he had been under Tung Sing's payroll.
  • I Owe You My Life: Smartie for Ho Nam, after he bails her out from starring in Ugly Kwan's pornography company, despite having punished her earlier for stealing his car.
  • In-Series Nickname
  • Jerkass: Fat Lai in Young and Dangerous 4
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ho Nam in the first film, Tai Fei
  • Killed Off for Real: Chou Pei, Uncle Bee, Chiang Tin Sung, Smartie, Tai Tin Yee, Banana and Blackie
  • Manipulative Bastard: Lui Gong and Ting Yiu in Young and Dangerous 2 and Lui Gong's son, Lui Fu Kwan in Born to be King
  • Meaningful Name: Sister 13 got her In-Series Nickname because on the day she was born, her father won multiple rounds with a Thirteen Terminals hand.
  • The Mole: Tai Fei in Young and Dangerous 2
  • Mercy Kill: Why Chicken killed Ting Yiu in Young and Dangerous 2, the implication that punishment for having killed Liu Gong and framed Chicken, fooling all of San Luen, is A Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Nepotism: Discussed - Lui Gong's son, Lui Fu Kwan, returns to Taiwan from the United States in Born to be King. The San Luen triad believes he will succeed his father as its head, but Fu Kwan doesn't want the position, believing he's not fit to lead as he doesn't know enough of Taiwan's culture and environment after years of being abroad. Played straight later when after framing Chicken, he steps up into the position, but plans to unite all of Taiwan's triads into one conglomerate, with the help of the new government.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Yiu Yeung pulls out a hidden dagger during his last man standing bout with Ho Nam in Young and Dangerous 4. He gets the short end of it when Fat Lai intervenes and kills him for pulling out a weapon in the first place.
  • Speech-Impeded Love Interest: Smartie.
  • Speech Impediment: Smartie, except during her Amnesiac Dissonance period
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Banana for Chou Pei, after he was Killed Off for Real. Naturally used as an excuse for Jason Chu to return, since he portrays both roles, but In-Universe, it's because Banana looks exactly like Chou Pei.
  • True Companions: Deconstructed in Young and Dangerous 4 - Chou Pei unknowingly gave up Tai Tin Yee's location after the latter unsuccessfully tried to assassinate Barbarian to help Chicken's campaign for the branch leadership. Barbarian relays the info to Yiu Yeung, who orders Tin Yee to his death. Since Ho Nam, a well-respected branch leader in Hung Hing, can't allow to be lenient among the society, let alone his own friends, has Chou Pei beaten to an inch of his life.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ben Hon and Sister 13; however, they get married in Those Were The Days.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Wondering what happened to Wasabi and why Chicken's getting married to Nanako, when he proposed to Wasabi at the end of Young and Dangerous 4? You'll need to watch Those Were The Days...