Shanghai Triad: Yimou’s Crime Gangster Epic, Starring Gong Li

Despite censorship and other constraints, Zhang Yimou (Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, To Live) continues to produce first-rate pictures in China. Set in Shanghai, circa 1930, his seventh feature, the crime-gangster epic Shanghai Triad paints a powerful portrait of mob power.

The story spans eight intense days, beginning with the arrival of Tang Shuisheng, the youngest member of the ruthless Tang family triad. When their rigorously controlled world is shaken by a hit from rival Fat Yu’s mob, the Tang family escapes to the countryside for a final showdown.

Under the watchful eye of Uncle Lui, Shuisheng witnesses almost every aspect of the triad’s closed world. This includes a gang execution, a tour of the boss’ mansion during a major conclave, and a visit through the family’s nightclub, where Xiao (Gong Li), mistress to both the triad boss and his second, performs as a singer. Shanghai Triad may sadly be the last collaboration between Yimou and Li, his beautiful leading lady–their romantic liaison is rumored to be over.

Distributed by Sony Classics