Men From The Gutter:” From now on, you must go by the book. Go, by the book? I don’t know what is.”

Year: 1983
Directed by Lam Nai-Choi
Produced by
Written by Keith Lee Pak-Ling and Tony Leung Hung Wah
Cast: Jason Pai Piao, Wong Yung, Lo Meng, Michael Miu, Chan Pui-Sai, Parkman Wong, Lung Tin-sang, Lee Hoi-Sang, Billy Lau, Sherman Wong, Yeung Chi-Hing, and Wong Ching-Ho

Two determined cops with different mentalities work hard to take down a high-level drug lord. In the middle of this fray, a small band of thugs plans on a robbery while a criminal assassin hunts his former comrades down.

Shaw Bros. is a studio not known for putting out crime thrillers but it Men From The Gutter is the rare exception. It’s a gritty and solemn peek of the criminal underworld of its day. In a way, it anticipates a gritty style that would be more characteristic of Ringo Lam. Perhaps, the gritty style is not as refined as Ringo Lam’s. Men From The Gutter still achieves a kind of special gritty look in its own right. The documentary-like approach of the camerawork produces a more authentic look. Resulting in cinematography that is more atmospheric and that avoids glamorizing its subject matter.

Unfortunately, Men From The Gutter is hurt by a muddled plot and weak characterization. The numerous plot threads are all over the place since much of the plot threads don’t even come together very well at all. Perhaps, this was done intentionally to match up with the more naturalistic cinematography. Since in reality when things happened, events are hardly ever orderly. But the weak characterization in a weak plot could leave us feeling bored. With a runtime that only goes only to 83 minutes, this isn’t that bothersome. The closing showdown is a worthy finale that goes a bit too over the top occasionally.

A gritty and naturalistic crime thriller that is let down by a rather messy plot and weak personalities. Despite possessing too much style, and not enough substance to back up that style, Men From The Gutter is a mediocre thriller that is still praiseworthy.

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