Friendship is a strong theme in gangster films, especially in Wong Ching-Po’s Triad Underworld. In fact, the friendship at the center of this film seems much more significant than the action, which is subtle and rarely used. This is more of a crime drama than anything else, although one with a slow burn and an effective finale. It also has the distinction of pairing Andy Lau and Jacky Cheung in another Triad film.
The film is split up between two similar storylines, albeit several decades apart and with the same key players. If this sounds confusing than my description is accurate the feeling watching this movie. With different actors playing the same characters at different points in their life, it can be hard to understand what is going on at the beginning of Triad Underworld. We start with mob boss Hung (Lau) and his flashy sidekick, Lefty (Cheung) as they celebrate the birth of Hung’s first child. Lefty warns Hung that he must leave town, because an assassination attempt will be made on his life.
At the same time that Hung struggles with what he should do, we are given flashbacks to reveal his rise into the underworld with his first killing. Lefty was right beside him at this beginning, and what they went through together at the beginning helps Lefty to determine whether he will stay by Hung’s side during the latest and possible last confrontation.