Shanghai Triad

Film

Gangster films

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Time Out says

To '30s Shanghai comes 14-year-old yokel Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao), whose uncle finds him work with the triad gang headed by ruthlessly manipulative Tang (Li Baotian). His job is to wait on fiery-tempered Bijou (Gong Li), the boss's mistress whose routines have made her 'Queen' of the Shanghai music halls. Dealing with her demands is difficult enough, but when Tang's rival Fat Yu seeks revenge for a murder by Tang and his right-hand man Song (who, it transpires, is Bijou's secret lover), Bijou and the boy flee to a remote island, Shuisheng little knows what treachery he will witness. Despite being related through the eyes of the naive Shuisheng, this sumptuous gangster drama centres on the experience of Bijou, a woman who initially believes she's able to exploit her position as the mistress of an ageing crime boss, but who comes, belatedly, to realise she's simply a pawn in a man's world and, thereby, to regain some of her lost innocence. Unfortunately, with its faintly uneven pacing and straggling structure, the film lacks depth or narrative economy. That said, Zhang's use of colour is as vivid as ever, his stylised depiction of violence is mostly effective, and Gong Li is gloriously watchable.
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Release details

UK release:

1995

Duration:

108 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Zhang Yimou

Cast:

Chen Shu, Fu Biao, Sun Chun, Li Xuejian, Li Baotian, Wang Xiaoxiao, Gong Li, Liu Jiang

Music:

Zhang Guangtian

Production Designer:

Cao Juiping

Editor:

Du Yuan

Cinematography:

Bruno Patin, Olivier Chiavassa, Lu Yue

Screenwriter:

Bi Fei Yu

Producer:

Jean-Louis Piel

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