Saturday, March 7, 2015

Film Review: Triad (2012)

Triad (Review)
China/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...has a lot of ambition, but not enough time or skill to execute it properly."

Three friends join the triads and find themselves rising through the ranks one violent altercation after another...

Triad is a film with a large scope squeezed into a comparably microscopic runtime. The film primarily follows William (William Wai-Ting Chan) when he joins the triads in order to protect his mother from other harassing gang members. He joins the triads with his friends, Derek and Edward, although they hardly have any development or interaction. Anyway, William graduates from college and continues to rise through the ranks. You'll see practically everything here: violent triad fights, cheesy romance, corrupt business, legitimate business, some backstabbing, and so on. The ending was disappointingly cliché and predictable.

Triad is ultimately very disappointing. First of all, the film has too much story for such a short runtime. The film wants to introduce us to three characters, show their struggles and relationships, their come-up, and so on, but it's too much. Worst of all, it wants to introduce us to the inner-workings of the triad and the overall business. Imagine trying to fit all of that into a mere 90 minutes – impossible! Another major gripe: every other scene in this film feels like a music video! You'll watch one scene of predictable dialogue or violence, followed by a music video montage, then another predictable scene, and so on. It creates a very bizarre and inconsistent flow – it almost doesn't even feel like you're watching a movie, more like you're watching a collection of music videos.

There are only a few aspects of the film that I actually enjoyed Рmostly due to my love for crime and gangster films. I'm always up for a good come-up and comeuppance story. Triad has that. Sure, it may be clich̩, predictable, and terribly inconsistent, but it has an interesting story. Some of the fight scenes were decent, too. I emphasize some because some of the other fight scenes were also bad. The melodrama may be effective for some audience members, but it failed to land for me. Again, some scenes were effective, but most were duds. The romance was completely ineffective, though. As you can see, the bad in this film easily outweighs the decent.

On that point, most of the performances were at least decent. Some of the actors felt miscast, though. I did enjoy Patrick Tam's performance the most – he felt the most grounded in reality. The music was also decent, but overwhelming. Like I said, there's a music video between every scene in this film. I love films with great music, but it needs to be seamless to work – this is overdone. I did not like Daniel Yee Heng Chan's direction, it was mostly ineffective and inconsistent; with a little more time, though, he might have been able to flesh out the characters and story – too bad. The writing, however, is more disappointing. This film had six writers, and all the audience gets is a been-there-done-that experience with flawed execution.

Overall, Triad is a mediocre film. Like its characters, it has a lot of ambition, but not enough time or skill to execute it properly. Instead of a classic gangster experience, you get a collection of music videos with some melodrama in-between. If you love gangster/crime films, especially from China, you've seen this film before and it was likely a better experience. If you're like me – you love crime films and have nothing better to do for 90 minutes – this is only worth a stream. I applaud it for its scope, but it really needed less music videos and at least an extra hour of effective character development to really work.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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