Shanghai Triad

Directed by Yimou Zhang
Film Movement Classics
1995
108 Minutes
France, China
Mandarin
Crime, Drama
R

Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee, SHANGHAI TRIAD is a thrilling and sumptuously stylized potboiler about the Chinese criminal underworld of the 1930's from legendary director Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers). 

Hired to be a servant to pampered nightclub singer and mob moll Xiao Jinbao (Gong Li, Ju Dou, Farewell My Concubine), naive teenager Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao) is thrust into the glamorous and deadly demimonde of Shanghai’s crime syndicates. Over the course of seven days, Shuisheng observes mounting tensions as triad boss Tang begins to suspect traitors amongst his ranks and rivals for Xiao Jinbao’s affections. Zhang’s inventive take on the gangster film is “assured and attention-grabbing” (Variety) and Gong’s central performance, “a portrait of a capricious and indulgent woman who gains depth as we watch her -- is one of her finest” (Chicago Tribune).

Director & Cast

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Reviews

  • "Shanghai Triad concludes the sublime seven-movie collaboration of Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou and actress Gong Li with a bang worthy of the most jubilant New Year's Eve."
    Mike Clark, USA Today
  • "Compelling and beautifully made -- it was shot in dreamlike soft focus by award- winning cinematographer Lu Yue -- "Shanghai Triad" shows an enclosed, separate world that looks incredibly plush and inviting, almost like a storybook palace, but of course is laced with perils. [G]orgeous and engaging...."
    Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
  • "Crime drama has rarely been this gorgeously alluring — or this brutal. Director Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou, Red Sorghum) fashions a magnetic thriller using the exquisite talents and beauty of his favorite leading lady, Gong Li, who plays Bijou, an imperious moll who gets caught in an escalating war between rival gangs in the dangerously flashy demimonde of 1930s Shanghai. Shanghai Triad‘s lush color, sound, and movement amount to a perfect excuse to invest in a large-screen stereo TV. Total immersion is the only way to experience this ugly world made strangely lovely, where the sharpest knives come sheathed in softest velvet. A"
    Melissa Pierson, Entertainment Weekly
  • "In its bold take on a subgenre that’s every bit as resonant as ’30s U.S. gangster pix, Zhang Yimou’s seventh feature is as assured and attention-grabbing as his 1988 bow, “Red Sorghum.” Poised somewhere between the visual flamboyance of that movie and the interior tension of the later “Raise the Red Lantern, “”Triad” oozes a confidence that carries the viewer almost without pause to its shocking climax and ironic close. "
    Derek Elley, Variety
  • "Zhang Yimou has made another visually stunning film and drawn out a fine performance from Gong Li as the country girl turned gangster's moll. "
    Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirtuality & Practice
  • "It has impeccable flow and balance. And Gong Li's performance -- a portrait of a capricious and indulgent woman who gains depth as we watch her -- is one of her finest."
    Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
  • "However endlessly film makers around the world have told that story, Mr. Zhang reimagines it with immense grace and turns it into a deeply felt tragedy... Gong Li's astonishing performance summons all the tawdriness, evil and eventual dignity this story demands."
    Janet Maslin, The New York Times