Shanghai Triad (1995)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Crime Drama, Gangster Film  |   Release Date - Dec 22, 1995 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 108 min.  |   Countries - China, France  |   MPAA Rating - R
  • AllMovie Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Share on

Review by Michael Costello

Zhang Yimou's final film with actress Gong Li is a lushly photographed evocation of the wide-open Shanghai of the 1930s, but remains gauzily incoherent. Narrated by a rustic 14-year old boy (Wang Xiao Xiao) who has been hired as a servant for the beautiful, vixenish chanteuse/gangster's moll played by Li, the film follows her glittering underworld life as she comes to realize the limits of her freedom. Unfortunately, neither her story nor the film's other thread about the gang wars of the time are very clear since we see everything from the boy's rather fragmentary perspective. Yimou seems to intend Li's seeming embrace of a more rural life at the film's conclusion as a kind of spiritual reawakening, but after knowing the cruelty of which she's capable, this sudden transformation is less than persuasive. As usual, Zhang Yimou's gorgeous camerawork has made this seedy milieu more hypnotically beautiful that it ever could have been, and the presence of the stunning Li doesn't hurt.