“ Genre: Drama / Theatrical Release: 1995 / Director: Yimou Zhang / Actors: Li Gong, Baotian Li ... / DVD released 12 December, 2000 at Columbia TriStar / Features of the DVD: Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
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~~~ Introduction ~~~
This film is produced in 1995 and directed by a brilliant filmmaker Zhang Yi Mou. The film is freely adapted from the novel "Gang Law" by Li Xiao. With the runtime of 103 minutes, Zhang Yi Mou has created a beautiful film with a great cinematography and beautiful songs.
~~~ Cast & Crew ~~~
Director: Zhang Yi Mou
Writer: Bi Feiyu (writer) & Li Xiao (novel)
Gong Li as Xiao Jing Bao (Bijou)
Li Bao Tian as Mr. Tang (the Gang Boss)
Wang Xiao Xiao as Shui Sheng, the boy
Li Xue Jian as Uncle Liu (6th uncle)
Chun Sun as Mr. Song
~~~ Tagline ~~~
"In 1930's Shanghai violence was not the problem. It was the solution"
~~~ Plot ~~~
Shui Sheng (the boy) moves from his village to Shanghai - and by the reference from his uncle, he can work for a Gang-Boss. He becomes a servant of Bijou.
Bijou is the Boss's mistress. But on the other hand, she has an affair with the Boss's right-hand man, Mr. Song.
In one incident while opium trading, Mr. Song kills one of the gang-member of Mr. Fat Yu (the enemy of the Boss). He does it to avenge the Boss's honor. But actually there are betrayals inside the Gang and every party will take revenges for it.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
The story is taken place within 7 days and it is presented day by day. And in 7 days there are a lot of things could happen. Within 7 days, there are many people killed, there are many lies revealed, and there are many tricky strategies applied.
I like the story. It is not focused on the situation of 1930s which full of violence in Shanghai for its Gang's seizure of power and the opium trading, but it is focused on the tricky strategies how to conquer love, betrayal and enemy.
Uncle Liu to the boy: "The Boss always says: women's business is nothing but wind. Men's business, however small, is important. He's the most powerful boss in Shanghai."
Watching this film is like watching the journey of Zhang Yi Mou as a director. He is a great director.
All of the casts play their portions very well. But the film is all about Gong Li. She acts very well as a high class prostitute. She thinks she is the queen of Shanghai. She is also a singer in the Boss's club - and she really thinks she's the queen of the stage. I like the scenes while she sings - accompanied by dancers with fancy choreography. I also like the songs - and I think that my parents perhaps can sing along since the songs are popular oldies songs.
The Boss: "Mr. Yu, do you think she sings well?"
Mr. Fat Yu: "She looks better than she sings!"
Back to Gong Li, I really like her acting as a slut. She is a slut. She is really an annoying-no-heart-drama-queen. But then she can get the audience's sympathy at the end of the film.
I also like the cast of Wang Xiao Xiao as Shui Sheng, the boy. He appears very innocent with his 'stupid - bowl style' hair cut. He is very good as a bumpkin.
From the Talent Files in DVD Special Features section, I find the information that Zhang Yi Mou began his career as a cinematographer. Although the Cinematography team is handled by Yue Lu in this film, I think that Zhang Yi Mou has put a significant influence that makes this film has a great technique of cinematography. It is nominated for Best Cinematography in Academy Awards in 1996.
If a film is taking place before 1960, I will always pay attention on Costume Design and Production Set. And for this film, Zhang Yi Mou is playing 'safe' since most of the shooting are done indoor (studio). It has made the work of the Production team easier.
On the other hand, the Costume Design team has put a good outcome for the film. The dresses are very pretty and glamour. And they are supported by the great hair-style of the casts.
I like the music score of the film. I like them very much. It brings me to the imagination of an oldies time.
~~~ DVD Special Features ~~~
 Talent Files, which consist of talent file of:
- Zhang Yi Mou
- Gong Li
 Theatrical Trailers, which consist the trailer of:
- Shanghai Triad
- Bizet's Carmen
- Emperor and the Assassin
~~~ Rating ~~~
IMDB Rating: 7.2 / 10 (2,263 votes)
My rating: 7 / 10
~~~ Award ~~~
For more detail, please link to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115012/awards.
Not even close to his best work, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou--far from a favourite of Chinese authorities, and frequently harassed and stymied in his career--creates an impressive-looking period piece in this gangland story set in the 1930s. Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern) gives a colourful performance as a night-club diva who is the mistress of a mob boss. Told from the point of view of a boy (Wang Xiaoxiao) sent by the gangster to wait on the arrogant singer, the story follows these characters over several days as they flee Shanghai to hide out in the countryside. A supreme stylist, Zhang in his best work (Ju Dou, The Story of Qui Ju) is not dependent on conventional story structures or expensive sets. But Shanghai Triad leans heavily on both, and while it is an interesting and enjoyable film--and not without subtle allusions to the political climate and culture in modern China--it is finally an unsatisfying experience. The saving graces are the performances, most of all that of the masterful, chameleon-like Gong Li. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com