The Young and Dangerous series is one of the most prolific film franchises in the history of Hong Kong cinema – there are five sequels (two of which were released in the same year as the predecessor) and a prequel. Half a decade ago, there was a reboot. It’s semi-official i.e. same writer and same producers but the director is long gone (ditto for the cast). The series is based on a Chinese comic book titled Teddy Boy. There would’ve been more sequels prior to the reboot, but there was a controversial tragedy that had happened in 1999 – a year before the final sequel. On January 28, it was reported that six teens were found guilty of torturing and murdering a 15-year-old. The way that the torture and murder was carried out was based on a similar practice outlined in Teddy Boy.
Complicating matters is that six others, including three girls, were convicted of lesser charges – assaulting and causing grievous bodily harm to the male victim who was identified as Luk Chi-Wai. Luk was beaten to death and set on fire on May 14. His body was never found. The court heard, during the five-month trial, that the gang attacked him with broomsticks, poles, folding stools, iron pipes and other weapons. A horrific account was provided by Hui Chi-Yung, 16, who was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm. The young man had testified that himself and his friends stepped forward, one by one, to kick and punch Luk as their names were announced during the reading of a poem most likely inspired by Teddy Boy. Surprisingly, one of their friends was only found guilty of manslaughter. The age range of the assailants was every teen that you can think of except 19.
Prior to the publication of the newspaper’s issue, an academic said that teenagers were particularly vulernable to what they saw and they had yet to fully a nurture a set of values to resist external influence. He said that messages conveyed via images stay in people’s minds longer than words. The academic’s workplace title was Assistant Professor of the Department of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University. Doctor Eric Ma Kit-Wai had suggested that comics had a big influence on teenagers in Hong Kong. Paul Chu Shun-Po, manager of King’s Fountain (which publishes the aforementioned best-selling comic) said he was not prepared to comment on the claim. He could only say: “We are just a business, and we publish the comics according to the laws of Hong Kong.”
As you can imagine, there were no Young and Dangerous movies coming out in 1999. Back in June of 1998, the prequel caused a considerably smaller stir because Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung’s mother wasn’t happy that her son was appearing in the Chinese equivalent to an NC-17 film. His father, Patrick Tse Yin, didn’t seem to be vocal. Deborah Dik Bo-Lai, on the other hand, said something which was misleading: “I really want to see this movie soon, to see how can a category III film can be made with an underage kid. Ting Fung becomes a category III star in his first movie, his old man – Sei Gor – has made numerous films and television series but has never made a category III film. How can I ask a mother accept that?”
The woman also known as Dik Boh-Laai expressed that she is considering legal action against those responsible for him starring in a category III film. However, She wasn’t clear on the matter yet or who would be responsible. The press at the scene of the première immediately tried to solve the puzzle for the former actress by naming Manfred Wong (the producer), Alfred Yeung (the presenter), Wong Jing (the studio head) and Raymond Chow (the distributor). She joked: “Then I will find Man Jun and Wong Jing. After that, I will drop a eye drops to find Mr. Yeung and Mr. Chow!”
When Jing appeared, the lady affectionately known by the media as Aunt Lai closed her fists and began swinging: “Hey fat guy, what did you do? My son is only 17.”
He immediately said: “Relax and leave Ting-Fung with me! Nothing will happen!”
She yelled: “Sure, now that he is at your disposal! I will decide whether to sue you or not after seeing the movie.”
He could only helplessly retreat. God knows how the legal proceedings were handled! It’s a wonder thought the prequel was greenlit after Young and Dangerous 5 (released in January of 1998) proved to be example of diminishing returns. The budget was 16 million H.K.$ whereas the local box office was 12 million. Contrast this with the first one which cost 6 million and took in 21 million. The fourth sequel known as Born to Be King was released without the Young and Dangerous prefix. It underperformed.