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Shanghai Triad
  Chinese: 搖啊搖,搖到外婆橋
Gong Li takes on the Shanghai Triad
  Year: 1995  
Director: Zhang Yimou
Writer: Bi Fei-Yu
Cast: Gong Li, Li Bao-Tian, Wang Xiao-Xiao, Ye Sun Chun, Li Xui Jian
The Skinny: Beautifully produced, but unfulfilling and even somewhat empty. Art film enthusiasts will likely find a lot to like in Shanghai Triad, but nothing about the film is as compelling as other Zhang Yimou films. Based on a novel by Li Xiao.
   
Review
by Kozo:

The most recent Zhang Yimou/Gong Li colaboration is a gangster saga that takes place in Shanghai 1927. Gong Li is Xiao Jingbao, a showgirl/moll for Tang (Li Bao-Tian), the biggest boss in town. We meet her through the eyes of her new servant, a boy named Shuisheng (Wang Xiao-Xiao), who either carries a smouldering disdain for everyone or is slow-witted as a mule. Jingbao leads a shallow, haughty existence, pleasing her boss, singing, and occasionally sleeping with the boss' right hand guy, Mr. Song (Ye Sun Chen). But things go bad between Tang and a rival boss, and he flees to a small island where he can hide from all those bad things gangsters do. He drags Jingbao and Shuisheng along, and it's there that Jingbao's character starts to take on a more well-rounded—but not not necessarily more sympathetic—shape.

Though this movie has been described with adjectives like "sumptuous" and "magnificent," I find "slow" to be most accurate. Shanghai Triad is interesting and beautifully mounted, but also somewhat empty. Once again, it seems that Zhang Yimou is exploring the role of the woman in Chinese society, and once again the woman is seemingly up to no good. Jingbao is annoyingly unlikable, and eventually does more than one person in with her high-handed meddling. On the other hand, Shuisheng becomes more likable by film's end, though his eventual sympathy for Jingbao doesn't lead to much. Ultimately, the film's pessimism seems obligatory rather than earned. I'm sorry, but I probably expect too much from the director of Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern. The film is visually stunning, but that's par for the course. (Kozo 1996)

   
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital Surround
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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