MPAA Rating: R
Shiushang (Li Xuejian) is only 14 years old when he is sent to
Shanghai to become a houseboy for a Chinese mafia boss.
Shiushang's Uncle Liu (Sun Chen) instructs his nephew on his
duties as a servant to the Boss' mistress, Bijou (Gong Li).
Shiushang must follow Bijou around as Bijou sings and dances for
her boss in 1930's Shanghai and bring her tea, carry her coat and
light her cigarettes. The boy is bewildered with such novelties
as telephones, ice cream and cigarette lighters, but soon learns
how to be a good servant to Bijou. In the seven days that the
movie covers, Shiushang learns many hard lessons about the
horrors of the Mafia underworld, even in the exciting, glamorous
Shanghai. When the Boss (Li Baotian) is attacked by a rival mob
boss, Shiushang's uncle is killed trying to protect him. Now
Shiushang is left without anyone to turn to. The Boss, his
mistress and Shiushang escape Shanghai and hide out for a while
on a deserted island. It is here that Shiushang sees the kinder
side of Bijou. Directed by Zhang Yimou, SHANGHAI TRIAD is not as
outstanding as his last year's To Live. But this Chinese film
with English subtitles is, nevertheless, a moving film about one
country boy's loss of innocence in the cruel world of organized
In the first scenes Shiushang witnesses from a distance two
men killed by gunshots and dimly sees bodies falling. Another
more horrible episode occurs when the Boss' life is threatened
and the boy finds his Uncle Liu dead amidst lots of blood and
three other bodies. In the final revenge scene, 19 men are dumped
and buried in an open grave, at least one of them still alive.
Veiled by heavy rain, only some of the bodies can be seen,
however. The movie rightly depicts the horror and ruthless
killings transpiring beneath the superficial opulence and charm
of the Shanghai mafia world. Also, the language is frequently
rough with several sexually suggestive comments and many
obscenities. The film has no sex scenes or nudity beyond one
brief shot of rear nudity as Shiushang relieves himself in the
bushes. For the most part, the R rating comes from the film's 15
obscenities and its adult subject matter.
Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Distributor: Sony Picture Classics, 711 5th Ave., NY, NY 10022
The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.
Several (7) times Mild 1, Moderate 6
Obscene Language: Many (15) times - F-word 4, s-word 5, others 6)
Violence: Many times Moderate (at least 24 people killed - most are shot off-screen, one man reportedly buried alive, bloody scene of of several dead men, man slaps boy's face)
Nudity: Once (brief rear male nudity)
Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (reference to intercourse, suggestive dancing)
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults
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