School on Fire
Director: Ringo Lam
Stars: Lee Lai Yui, Lam Ching Ying
The story of a girl named Yuen Fong (Lee), who gets mixed up in the world of the Triad after she rats out one of their own.
A gritty, unrelenting drama from noted director Lam. Unlike many Triad movies (especially recent "Triad youth" movies like the Young and Dangerous series), the gangsters here are not glamorized in any way. There's nothing heroic or honorable about them -- it's a total 180 from the slick characters portrayed in most movies like A Better Tomorrow. The acting for the most part comes off as fairly amateurish, but that actually adds something to the film. At times, it gets almost uncomfortably close to a documentary as we get sucked deeper into the characters' lives. Though there is little in the way of "conventional" action (such as gunfights), the movie is unrelenting in its portrayal of violence, especially during the gut-wrenching finale. Though not as polished as Lam's later work, School on Fire is still a great film that offers a different glimpse into Hong Kong's underworld.
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