Dang kou (2008)

  • Year: 2008
  • Released: 14 Mar 2009
  • Country: Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan
  • Adwords: 2 nominations
  • IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1054119/
  • Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/dang_kou
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Runtime: 118 min
  • Writer: Danilo Gullane, Fernando Bonassi, Fendou Liu
  • Director: Nelson Lik-wai Yu
  • Cast: Anthony Chau-Sang Wong, Joe Odagiri, Domingos Antonio
  • Keywords: street war, street riots, sao paulo, brazil, gang,

Dang kou Storyline

Yuda, a feared Chinese outlaw, and his adopted son Kirin, an impulsive young dreamer, together rule the pirated goods racket in an ultra-liberal Brazilian metropolis. The magnate and his heir control all of Liberdade, from rival gangs to street hawkers, corrupt politicians to erotic dancers. But an empire that takes years to build can also crumble to the ground with one fatal mistake. A conspiracy between politicians and the mafia begins to threaten Yuda’s power. Little by little, he loses control of his business and is ultimately arrested. Kirin struggles to re-conquer his father’s honor, fighting this city’s wars singlehandedly. But Yuda, tired of the bloodshed and feeling the weight of his years, abandons his son, falsifies his own death and returns to the jungle in a last attempt to put an end to his criminal life. Escaping from a complex maze of violence, Kirin sets out to find his father. In the mysterious jungle, father and son both have to wipe the slate of their past clean. Only in the end will Kirin discover the ultimate answer to the search for his own destiny.—The Film Catalogue

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Dang kou Movie Reviews

A City of Confusion

First time movie director Nelson Yu Lik Wai gave his very best shot with his full length feature, Plastic City. With his very best shot, he tried various style of presenting the story. Evenntually, it lead everyone lost in nowhere, which happens to be the opening scene for the movie.

Anthony Wong and Jo Odagiri plays Yuda and Kirin, both were fugitives survived from the guns of Brazilian mercenaries. Set in the modern day Brazil, Yuda owns an counterfeit goods empire, which specializes in counterfeit products and pirated DVDs. Kirin, the godson of Yuda, believes in the philosophy of ‘earning real money through selling fake goods’. When Yuda was arrested for manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit goods, Kirin took over the business. Using money and relationships with the military, Kirin pulls Yuda out of the trouble with the law.

Facing the pressure from the police, Yuda abandons his business and starts a new life. On the other hand, Kirin lost his buddies in a gang fight and his girlfriend left him after the fight. He embarks a journey to look for Yuda.

Being a new director, Nelson Yu was given the opportunity to film Plastic City in Brazil, with the support from various film commissions from Brazil. However, we do not get the very best out of the movie.

In some way, Plastic City is a combination of City of God, Lower City, 300 and South Park. Extract the gangsterism from City of God, add in a touch of sexuality from Lower City, blend in some CGI battle scenes from 300 and glazed it with the social issues discussed in South Park. The final product: Plastic City.

Plastic City tried to discuss issue on gangsterism from Lower City, and it barely covers all. The sleaziness from the strip clubs barely shows the link to the story. Gang fights were shot on blue screen, filled with plenty of CGI effects which looks exactly like what one would have seen from 300. Poverty, high crime rates in Brazil and the corrupted government add a little touch to the story.

There is no flow in the storyline, which is hard to swallow. Storyline without any connection and linkage worsens the overall feature of the film. To make it more confusing, scenes were presented in some flashbacks, and a bit of MTV style presentation.

Anthony Wong and Jo Odagiri uses Portuguese for most of their lines, which unfortunately, were performed by the professional dubbing artists. With more than 60 percent of dialog in Portuguese, one can easily spot the movement on the lips failed to match with what was heard. This is a letdown to the audience as one would expect their lines to sound as original as possible.

In overall, Plastic City is only worth watching when you are left with nothing but plenty of F-graded rubbish around you, since you can’t go wrong with the acting skills of the two professional actors.

A Nutshell Review: Plastic City

Shot mostly in Brazil and against a blue/green screen, Plastic City had all the trappings of a classic gangster flick. After all, it has Hong Kong veteran Anthony Wong whom we all know can go crazy if the role calls for it, and Japan’s Jo Odagiri who is more than just your pretty boy actor as showcased through his range of characters in his filmography. Unfortunately, under the rookie directorship of Yu Lik-Wai, this city became too sprawling a convoluted mess of half-baked ideas and ambitious presentation that fell flat on its face.

Supposedly, it tells the story of two Brazilian-Chinese guys – Kirin (Odagiri) and his “father” Yuda (Wong), who owns an established underground empire built on counterfeit goods. Naturally their clientèle are the have-nots who want to have, and their influence extend until the corrupt politicians in scratching each other’s backs. For instance, one of the rare examples of a fun scene here involved a senior politician wanting to look good to his electorate, waging war on fake products, only to have the duo’s men arrested and immediately let go behind closed doors, as agreed under the table.

Sadly the film turned out to be more flashy and with more style than substance. Suffice to say Yuda got into trouble, and Kirin takes over the family business while plotting to bust Yuda out. Throw in some unbelievable romantic elements to introduce some classic flower vase roles such as Yi Huang’s Ocho, whom Kirin tries to get it on with in Yuda’s absence.

Many scenes don’t make too much sense because they’re presented in a non-linear manner, and the danger here is of course no clear demarcation when a drift in timeline happens, which Yu Lik-wai lapses into time and time again. He also seemed to have found a lot more glee in crafting highly charged and stylized action, rather than dig deeper into the motivations of the characters, or sticking to basic storytelling 101 – do not seek to confuse your audience.

Containing many stock images to highlight the seedy underbelly of Sao Paolo, and sometimes the more touristy type images of what Brazil can offer, the presentation is mostly in darkened hues to accentuate the dark side of life that the characters reside in. Speaking mostly in Portuguese, something a lot more irritating here was having to observe the voices being dubbed over, since lip movement and what’s being heard seldom gel. Those who cannot stand their audio being out-of-sync, would know what I mean here, with that being the constant, distracting thorn.

The only saving grace here is the eclectic, trance inducing soundtrack, which of course is never enough to mask the stench of a stinking story nor to cover up the shortcomings of a rookie helmer. Only for die-hard fans of Anthony Wong or Jo Odagiri who don’t mind giving Yu Lik-Wai a go and a chance.

Pointless and Messy Story, Stylish Cinematography

In 1984, in Oiapoque in the north border of Brazil, the Chinese Choi Chi Leung a.k.a. Yuda (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang) rescues the orphan boy Kirin from the jungle. In 2008, in Liberdade, São Paulo, Yuda is a powerful smuggler that supplies with Kirin (Jô Odagiri) pirated goods to the street vendors. The corrupt politician Daniel Carvalho and the Chief of Police Coelho (Antônio Petrin) invite Yuda to have lunch with them and they tell Yuda that they will make a raid on two or three trucks and shopping centers of his own to satisfy the media in times of globalization. Further, they arrest Yuda and his henchman Inácio goes with Yuda to protect him. Sooner, Yuda and Kirin learn that their empire is in danger, threatened by the mobster Mr.Taiwan and his gang that wants to take their business.

“Dangkou” a.k.a. “Plastic City – Cidade de Plástico” is a film with a stylish cinematography but a pointless and messy story. The director Nelson Yu Lik-wai has a plot with great potential, but unfortunately he goes nowhere and waste what could have been a great movie. The film show the problem of piracy on the streets of São Paulo; corrupt politicians and policemen; violence on the streets; fight of gangs; but in a shallow way, without any depth. There are characters that are simply forgotten, like Kirin’s girlfriend, the sexy stripper of the night-club. There are also ellipsis and lack of continuity in many sequences. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): “Plastic City – Cidade de Plástico”