The Brothers (1979 film)

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The Brothers
Directed by Hua Shan
Produced by Runme Shaw
Written by Lam Chin Wai
Yuen Cheung
Story by Salim-Javed
Based on Deewaar
by Salim-Javed
Starring Tony Liu
Danny Lee Sau-Yin
Ku Feng
Chau Li Chuan
Nam Hung
Distributed by Shaw Brothers Studio
Release date
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese

The Brothers (Cantonese: 差人大佬搏命仔 Cha yan daai liu bok meng chai, Mandarin: Cha ren da lao bo ming zai) is a 1979 Hong Kong crime film, directed by Hua Shan, written by Lam Chin Wai and Yuen Cheung, and produced by Runme Shaw under the Shaw Brothers Studio. The film stars Tony Liu, Danny Lee Sau-Yin, Chau Li Chuan, Ku Feng, and Nam Hung.[1][2] It is a remake of Bollywood crime film Deewaar (1975), written by Salim-Javed,[3] and in turn inspired John Woo's international breakthrough A Better Tomorrow (1986),[1] which set the template for the heroic bloodshed genre in Hong Kong action cinema.[4][5]


Hong Kong Cinemagic provides the following plot summary:[1]

Liu Yung, one of Bruce Lee's favorite co-stars, is the brother whose destiny is to become a top mobster. Danny Lee (future co-star of John Woo's The Killer) is the brother fated to become a cop. More than five years before John Woo was to play out the same conflict in his international film festival favorite A Better Tomorrow, the Shawscope screen was filled with similarly powerful blood, sweat, and tears.


The Brothers is a remake of Deewaar (The Wall), a 1975 Bollywood crime film. Written by Salim-Javed, the story was loosely inspired by the Bombay underworld gangster Haji Mastan. The original film stars Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan (as the criminal brother played by Tony Liu), Shashi Kapoor (as the cop brother played by Danny Lee), Nirupa Roy (as the mother played by Nam Hung) and Iftekhar (in the role played by Ku Feng). The Brothers is a mostly faithful remake, with many of the same scenes, as well as dialogues transcribed directly from the original in many places.[3]

There are some notable differences. It has a shorter 90-minute length, compared to the original's 176 minutes. Other changes reflect the shift from Indian culture to Chinese culture, such as the setting changed from Bombay to Hong Kong, and the Bombay underworld changed to the Chinese triads. There are also cultural references changed to reflect Chinese culture; for example, the number on the criminal brother's badge is changed from 786, a number with symbolic significance in Islam, to 838, which signifies the Chinese Year of the Horse.[3]


The Brothers inspired John Woo's internationally acclaimed breakthrough A Better Tomorrow (1986), which involved a similar conflict between two brothers on opposing sides of the law.[1] In particular, Ti Lung's character in A Better Tomorrow is similar to Tony Liu's character in The Brothers (in turn based on Amitabh Bachchan's character in Deewaar).[3] In turn, A Better Tomorrow was a landmark film, credited with creating the heroic bloodshed genre,[4] which was influential in Hong Kong action cinema, and later Hollywood.[5]

The Brothers also established Danny Lee (playing Sashi Kapoor's character from Deewaar) with a police officer persona later seen in Hong Kong crime films such as Woo's The Killer (1989).[3][1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Brothers". Hong Kong Cinemagic. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  2. ^ Shaw Brothers Films
  3. ^ a b c d e Mondal, Sayantan. "Amitabh Bachchan starrer 'Deewar' was remade in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam – and Cantonese". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Morton, Lisa (2001). The Cinema of Tsui Hark. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0990-8. 
  5. ^ a b Volodzko, David (13 June 2015). "30 Years Later, This Chinese Film Still Echoes in Hollywood". The Diplomat. 

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