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Yao a yao, yao dao wai po qiao (1995)

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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.

Director:

Yimou Zhang

Writers:

Bi Feiyu, Li Xiao (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

triad | shanghai | uncle | mistress | 1930s | See All (70) »

Taglines:

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


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Sony Pictures Classics

Country:

France | China

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

22 December 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shanghai Triad See more »

Filming Locations:

Shanghai, China

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,300,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

6th Uncle: The Boss always says, "Women's business is nothing but wind. Men's business, no matter how small, is important."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

countryside meets underworld
22 August 2011 | by lee_eisenbergSee all my reviews

It was around the time that Zhang Yimou's "Yáo a yáo, yáo dào wàipó qiáo" ("Shanghai Triad" in English) came out that he was really becoming a notable director internationally, and this movie justifiably adds to that. The movie focuses on a Tang Shuisheng (Wang Xiaoxiao), a boy who goes to Shanghai in the 1930s to work for his relative, who is also a major crime boss. Shuisheng is given the duty of attending to the boss's mistress Xiao Jinbao (Gong Li). She is a country person like Shuisheng is, although she calls him a country bumpkin. But over the course of the movie, it becomes clear to Shuisheng that Jinbao that things are not as calm as they look amongst the numerous characters.

A lot is usually made about the movie's cinematography -- which received an Academy Award nomination -- and about Gong Li's glamorous role. While these two are significant, I think that the more significant issue is the role that 1930s Shanghai plays. No doubt the movie is implying that the conditions back then led to the communist revolution. But probably the main thing is how Shuisheng and Jinbao come to understand the falsity of the world that they inhabit.

I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's still worth seeing. It seems like Zhang's movies in the last ten years were more and more like epics, more exaggerated each time.


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