11 January 2007 | spiritualjunkie-1
The Chinese version of "The Godfather"...
I stumbled upon "Dragon Boys" when I was flipping through channels. And I'm glad I did.
What caught my eye immediately was the all-Asian cast. At first, I thought what I was seeing was some Chinese film but a few minutes into it, I realized it was a look into Canada's Chinese gang problem in the West coast.
The main character, Tommy (Byron Mann), surprisingly wasn't a stereotypical Chinese. In fact, he was what people would call "white-washed" and what was so great about his character was that he had this ongoing conflict with his cultural identity that ends up playing a huge role on his determination to solve the case he's working on.
Lawrence Chou was cast to play the perfect villain. Movie Star is a criminal who at first, appears to be completely evil and heartless but occasionally, they show parts of him which actually seem human without making the viewer become completely sympathetic to the character.
I liked the separate stories that were going on. I became equally invested in all of them. They were all somehow connected. The character writing was intelligent and the acting was great (most notable to me were aside from Byron Mann and Lawrence Chou were Steph Song, Simon Wong, Jean Yoon, Tzi Mah, and Christina Mah). Just when I felt their characters were established as being something, they, along with the writing, surprised me.
I won't spoil the rest of the film for those who haven't seen it yet but if it ever returns to the CBC or makes it out on DVD, I highly recommend you see it. To sum it up, it's like the Chinese version of "The Godfather" but in a contemporary Canadian setting. While these people are being portrayed as criminals, they are not one-note. They have their own lives, their own fears and inner conflicts, and we get clues as to how some of them got to be who they are.
The Chinese gang problem is complex, as are the people involved in it, I'm sure. "Dragon Boys" does a brilliant job of keeping that complexity.