China Girl (1987)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  25 September 1987 (USA)
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A modern day Romeo & Juliet story is told in New York when an Italian boy and a Chinese girl become lovers, causing a tragic conflict between ethnic gangs.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Panebianco ...
Sari Chang ...
Yung Gan
Joey Chin ...
Tsu Shin
Mrs. Monte
Gung Tu
Enrico Perito
Doreen Chan ...
Gau Shing
Randy Sabusawa ...
Ma Fan
Keenan Leung ...
Ying Tz
Lum Chang Pang ...
Da Shan
Sammy Lee ...


A modern day Romeo & Juliet story is told in New York when an Italian boy and a Chinese girl become lovers, causing a tragic conflict between ethnic gangs. Written by Keith Loh <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 September 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Krieg in Chinatown  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,262,091 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was shot in 40 days. See more »


Gung Tu: We must never allow ourselves to be divided by war... or to be interfered with by police investigations... all because a few reckless children cannot live within our tradition of our society. Our responsibility is to control our children.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the credits there is a line: Dedicated to the people of Chinatown and Little Italy. See more »


Referenced in A Short Film About the Long Career of Abel Ferrara (2004) See more »


La Donna Mobile
From "Rigoletto"
Written by Giuseppe Verdi
Vocal performed by Rick Christman
Accompanist Maura Waldman
See more »

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User Reviews

A story that never grows old.
29 December 2009 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

Director Abel Ferrara hit's the street's with this modern take on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set amongst waring Italian and Chinese gangs… this is more so the younger generation… as the much older and wiser mafia / triad figures set out for peace so they don't draw unwanted attention from the man in blue. However these young-guns make it a battleground and caught between it is two love-struck lovers; a Chinese girl Tayn-Hwa and Italian lad Tony Monte. They don't care about colour or race, despite what's happening all around them and what it could do to them or even loved ones.

There's no real surprises to the old hat, if simply low-key material (which was penned by Ferrara's collaborator Nicholas St. John), as we pretty much know how this dangerous story plays out and eventually finishes, however director Ferrara has a gritty, but devoted style and upbeat tempo that's uniquely his own that elevates the conventional framework with his striking eye for a sense of place and powerfully lasting imagery that's uncompromising. He does more than just direct from the screenplay. The concentration on the tough, smoky urban setting (with excellent location photography of New York's bordering neighbourhoods Chinatown and little Italy), helps build a seedy atmosphere where hatred and violence is simply waiting to boil over, as obsession and pride becomes a death wish. Ferrara polarises it very well, especially the conflict not between (which is still quite blistering), but within the same races seeking out honour in who they are ---- this is where it was at its strongest, because the forbidden love angle (while important to the plot's progression) did stall and take away from some of the underlining tension. Although outside of its pushy race card slant, it does feel like it's just building up these explosive acts to glorify its foreseeable conclusion. Joe Delia's melancholy score fits in perfectly.

The performances are down-to-earth and genuinely projected by its cast. Richard Panebianco and Sari Chang are sympathetically touching as the two lovebirds. An admirable James Russo and especially a hot-headed David Caruso bring an unstoppable intensity to their roles. Russell Wong is quite laid-back in a sound performance, in his quest to please his elders by controlling his gang and that of his wayward sister. Journeyman actor James Hong pops up, as well as Robert Miano as heavies.

You might call it lesser Ferrara compared to his other works, but it's involving and efficiently handled with his trademark raw and brutal edge shining through.

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

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