So on Saturday we had a bitter-sweet online gaming experience, with a game starting fantastically promising but Internet technology deciding to leave us in a ditch. We’re test-driving the “HK TPK” playset by Corey Reid, John Rogers, and Gareth-Michael Skarka for Jason Morningstar’s game Fiasco (Bully Pulpit Games). The game is intended to tell tales of things gone wrong, largely in the style of the Cohen Brothers’ movies; the playset simulates Hong Kong action movies.
We had five players spanning different continents and time zones, plus my husband Edmund acting as facilitator. We got our game set up and it started out as a convoluted generation-spanning tale of duty, regret, temptation and betrayal. Then one of the connections decided that Saturday night’s all right for fighting, and gave us the boot. We’ve rescheduled for next weekend, but in the mean time I thought I’d describe our movie’s beginning.
Maybe it all started in 1992, with the botched Kai Tak job. An entire Boeing 747 cargo of North Korean rocket-propelled grenades, bought from China and destined for sale in Libya, intercepted by a consortium of Triads and Yakuza interests. Tony got the the cargo, but shot a man he mistook for a cop. Alas, it was really his contact. In the scramble that followed, he stashed the cargo — but someone else found it and moved it. He needs to find it again to free himself from his obligation to the fearsome Madame Wu.
Madame Wu, representing the Triads in the affair, was displeased. Nevertheless, she decided to give Tony Chin another chance when he saved her life from the Yakuza assassins, since Madame Wu’s erstwhile partners turned out to be equally displeased.
Almost a year later, she still has not located the cargo. The thief lay low for a long while… until recently some goods appeared on the market. Like a patient spider, Madame Wu traced them back, eliciting certain less-than-spontaneous confessions… and the track led to her very own twin brother.
Perhaps it started much earlier after all. Wu Tang and his sister grew up orphans in southern China, displaced by the Chinese Civil War of 1928 then by the Japanese occupation a few years later. Wu Tang managed to escape to the British New Territories of Hong Kong — only to have the Japanese invasion follow there too. And yet, and yet… Young Wu Tang had been smitten with a beautiful young Japanese girl during the occupation. But this romance had no future, and he had turned his back on it to dedicate himself to his family. After the British re-established their control, Wu Tang managed to bring his sister to the New Territories.
Wu Tang was a humble, quiet man; in his old age, he made his living as a hot dog vendor with an unlicensed meat shop in the tenements of the Kowloon Walled City. His embittered sister, however, was ambitious and ruthless and rose to power within the Triads. Wu Tang had abandoned ambition for himself when he was shocked to see a figure from the past walking the streets of Kowloon — the spitting image of his lost love.
And the cargo of rocket-propelled grenades, which he had left hidden for months, suddenly became the key to the fortune he would make to give it to this young girl in atonement for failing her grandmother decades ago. Wu Tang decided he would sell the cargo piecemeal, to the highest bidders.
Hideko Sasaki looked indeed a great deal like her grandmother had. Ostensibly in Hong Kong as a student, she was really here to search for her father, gone missing months ago on a business trip to the City. Wu Tang immediately decided to make amends by protecting the grand-daughter of his former love, acting as her silent guardian angel around the streets of Kowloon.
How could anyone guess that the demure high school student was occasionally possessed by the vengeful ghost of her grandmother?
In order to earn a living but unable to work legally on her student visa, Hideko took a job as an assistant in an illegal medical establishment in Kowloon, the Kwan Yin’s Blessing Clinic. Hideko had not picked the place at random: her investigation had led her here as the last place her father had been seen alive, if badly wounded, nearly a year ago.
The place was operated by Naomi Lau, a doctor who had fallen into debts and obligations to Madame Wu and thus done a lot of unsavoury things. In the unacknowledged hope of atoning, she had started an unlicensed clinic in Kowloon City, tending to the poor; but as usual, “business” had crept in and tainted everything. Cynical and disgusted with herself, Naomi might have merely sunk into vice but she had been jolted to action a few weeks ago when an old flame of hers, Harry Chin, has shown up at the clinic for help.
Naomi patched up Harry, who was still badly crippled though recovering, but this unexpected second chance fired up her longing to get out from under Madame Wu’s thumb. Moreover, she still badly resented Harry’s brother Tony Chin for breaking up Harry and Naomi’s romance over twenty years ago. When she found in Harry’s wallet a strange note from Tony, she began to unravel the story of the stolen cargo of rocket-propelled grenades. She thought that if she got to them and returned them to Madame Wu, she could earn her freedom… and if she couldn’t, she could still manage to create enough destruction to fake her own death and disappear.
So when Madame Wu tracked the sale of RPGs to her brother, she decided to confront him. At first he denied everything, but eventually he told her he had done enough by spending a lifetime trying to atone to her, and now he had to redress other wrongs he had caused.
- Chow Yun-Fat as John Lee in The Replacement Killers, no copyright challenge intended.
- Old Chinese woman, unknown source, found on a spam blog.
- Homeless man in Luan Prabang by Ben The Man, no copyright challenge intended.
- Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill 1, no copyright challenge intended.
- Maggie Cheung as Emily Wang in Clean, no copyright challenge intended.