Shanghai Triad (1995)
"Yao a yao, yao dao wai po qiao" (original title)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  22 December 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,080 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 27 critic

A provincial boy related to a Shanghai crime family is recruited by his uncle into cosmopolitan Shanghai in the 1930s to be a servant to a ganglord's mistress.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Xiao Jingbao
Baotian Li ...
Tang, the Gang Boss
Wang Xiaoxiao ...
Shuisheng, the boy
Liu, 6th Uncle
Chun Sun ...
Song, Tang's No. 2
Biao Fu ...
Zheng, Tang's No.3
Shu Chen ...
Shi Ye
Jiang Liu ...
Fat Yu
Baoying Jiang ...
Cuihua, the Widow
Qianquan Yang ...
Ah Jiao
Ying Gao
Weiming Gao
Lian Shuliang
Ya'nan Wang
Zhang Yayun


Uncle Liu brings his cousin to Shanghai to work for 'Boss,' the leader of a powerful drug empire in the 1930's. Shuisheng, a simple country boy is awed and overwhelmed by the opulence and immense wealth he is suddenly surrounded by. He is to be the attendant of Xiao Jingbao, the new mistress of 'Boss.' While he fumbles with the demands of his new role, much intrigue is going on around him, well beyond his bewildered perception. Xiao Jingbao is having a tumultuous affair, Fat Yu is starting a gang war, and 'Boss' is beginning to suspect that one of his trusted men is not loyal. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In 1930's Shanghai violence was not the problem. It was the solution.


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and images of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

22 December 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shanghai Triad  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


SGD 780,000 (Singapore)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was a difficult film for Yimou Zhang to make. His relationship with his leading lady Li Gong was coming to an acrimonious end and the Chinese authorities were deliberately hassling him with complicated and elusive work permits. That was mainly because they were still annoyed with him for submitting his previous film To Live (1994) to the Cannes Film Festival without their permission. See more »


Xiao Jingbao: [to Song] Just because you fucked me you think you're the boss?
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

A wonderful film of Chinese triads in the early Republic, with all the dynamic.
18 February 1999 | by (West Springfield, Ma USA) – See all my reviews

Gong-Li and film making partner Zhang Yimou have another fine hit; in a series that is beautiful filmmaking as well as one the government would find disapproving of the reality of triads.

She plays a "moll" , also a singing star triggering more than an ample reward for the conniving under bosses who would try to topple the boss.

Stunningly photographed and acted, maybe near the Hang Zhou coast (or a rare unfilled canal in Shanghai?) ... with his beautiful concubine, and the narrative device of a young male orphan as fellow observer; the Boss hits the mattresses due to an attempted murder from within; and retires to an island to discern the traitor giving orders to kill anyone who arrives or leaves the island without his permission.

Then the Boss waits, and Gong-Li idles no longer singing in the cabaret; and the "smoke out" begins.

Excellent poignant drama sensitively photographed.

As in all her films, and the directors, the people as bystanders and victims of any corruption is a subtle attended theme!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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