While Bullet in the Head is set in Vietnam during the war, Blood Brothers takes us back to the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai in the '30s. Feng (Daniel Wu), Kang (Liu Ye), and Kang's brother Hu (Tony Yang) decide to leave their poor village and venture into town to see what they can make of themselves. It's rough going at first, with the guys taking on menial and humiliating jobs such as rickshaw pulling, but Hu lucks out by landing work as a waiter at the gorgeous Paradise Club, where all of haute Shanghai comes to party and to pay homage to the crime bosses who run it. The star of the show: Lulu (Shi Qi), who's the plaything of the big boss but is secretly in love with Mark (Chang Chen), one of his bodyguards.
Soon enough, all three guys are working for the boss, robbing, beating, torturing, and killing at his command. Of the three, it's Kang who really gets off on his newfound power and his natty double-breasted suits. Feng is tortured by guilt but goes along out of loyalty to his friends, while innocent Hu looks like the one who is destined to die first. It's not like "Dead Meat" is written on his forehead, but you know the type.
After a series of betrayals, jealous backbiting, and revealed secrets, the world of the Paradise Club begins to melt down as an all-out power grab kicks off and quickly spins out of control. It's friend against friend, lover against lover, and brother against brother as the shootouts commence, culminating in one of those moments where everyone is pointing a gun at someone else, with no one daring to shoot first.
This is s a slick production, with lots of attention paid to sets and costumes to give the whole enterprise an artificial but eye-catching old timey feel. While the film feels more choreographed and blocked than actually performed, Chang has fun as the elegant bodyguard/gunman, and Shi couldn't be any more gorgeous. Sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and those Woo-trademarked gunfight ballets. Blood Brothers is relatively high-quality pulp.
Aka Tian tang kou.
Run time: 55 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st March 2013
Budget: $3 thousand
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
IMDB: 9.0 / 10
Director: Alexi Tan
Screenwriter: Alexi Tan, Dan Jiang, Tony Chan