The Flaming Brothers (1987) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Not rated but probably R for violence
Running Time: 99 min.
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Alan Tang, Emily Chu, Pat Ha
Director: Joe Cheung
Screenplay: Jeffrey Lau, Wong Kar-Wai
Review published March 4, 2000
THE FLAMING BROTHERS is probably the most graphically violent film I have ever had the misfortune to see, and that's saying a lot. There is so much gruesome displaying of violence, that it seriously detracts from the film's overall impact because I was so sickened that I wanted it to end ASAP. One might argue that the unflinchingly graphic carnage is to show the ugliness of the Asian mafia life, but I don't buy it. FLAMING BROTHERS revels in every blood-soaked frame, entertained by showing you rivers of blood much more than in the storyline.
This feeble storyline follows two brothers in crime (not blood brothers, just bloody). They have been through every imaginable scrape side-by-side, with nothing but dead rivals littering the areas they travel through. Now one of them (Fat) meets a childhood sweetheart who won't have anything to do with him until he goes legit. Tensions are escalated in the two brothers' relationship, and both find life a lot harder without the other.
THE FLAMING BROTHERS reminded me of the Krays of London, the brothers turned gangsters whose legendary ruthlessness spawned another violent film of it's own in 1990. This film is very frustrating because it seems to work during many scenes, especially between Fat and lady love Chu. But the violence churns on and on to the point of nausea, with every murder depicted with a shower of blood and guts shooting out the back of every body. In one scene, a person is riddled with bullets until he looks like smoking chunks of meat. In another scene we get to witness a father forced to shoot his own 6-year-old boy at point blank range in the face. The violence was so sickening, I almost forgot what the movie is about...or even cared.
THE FLAMING BROTHERS is about as fun as a trip to the slaughterhouse. Keep the rope away, or you may end up hanging yourself before getting to the end of this one.
©2000 Vince Leo