In the Chinese underworld, there is the myth of a secret hit squad that is called upon by the triads when they are out of options. According to myth, they’re an international group. Part man, part demon. They swoop in from anywhere. They’re believed to have been responsible for a dozen gruesome deaths spread across the world from Thailand to Shanghai, to Vancouver, to New York, and to Canberra.
They are called the “Black 54” and they are feared by every Chinese gangster. It is superstitiously believed that the night before the target’s death, they are visited by the yellow emperor in a dream. In the hallways of Macau and British Colombia gangsters tell each other the story of the Wo On Lok having made a pact with a demon, that even the strongest and most untouchable souls will be sacrificed to it.
The Black 54 come only when there is no way out for the victim. When all other options have become impassable. In 2011, a Chinese mob boss from Rotterdam was killed by four Chinese hitmen over a disagreement with a German tong. The hitmen flew in from Shanghai and went straight to Schiphol. According to local sources, the Chinese mob boss had a change of heart the day before his death and that night made a distressed phone call to his closest advisor saying he had an eerie feeling.
The case was never resolved by the police. But Chinese gangsters agree that the mob boss must have been visited by the Black 54. It’s a testimony that even the strongest individuals that step out of the line of the superstitious traditions of the triads will be stopped even if death itself must come to claim them.
Super Wok Explosion is a unique animated web-series about Chinese organized crime. The project is funded entirely by its audience. On this website, animator Tony Cheuk likes to share information about Asian organized crime—and world-building of the universe of the series, Chinese tongs and triads. If you're interested in learning more about the project, you can click here.