上海之夜 (1984)
Shanghai Blues

Reviewed by: tomliffe
Date: 04/08/2002
Summary: Incredible movie

Tsui Hark is a master of his art, a God, a genius or whatever you want to call him. There's no denying that he has made a HUGE impact on HK cinema and almost everyone of his films is brilliant. From fantasy swordplay to comedy he has done everything. Unfortunately, Shanghai Blues is almost impossible to find anywhere unsubtitled, let alone subtitled and it's the film I've most wanted to see of his for years. So when I managed to get hold of a subtitled copy I was over the moon. Could this film possible live up to my expectations though? Tsui Hark himself has even said that this is his favourite film he has made and after years of waiting I finally got to see it. Did it live up my expectations? It sure did and surpassed them by a large degree too.

This film is pure magic from beginning to end. It such a happy, joyful, fun and touching film. I've have never seen Sally Yeh act like she has in this film. Every scene she was in put a huge smile on my face. She has these big round eyes and a wide smile in every bit she's in and she just looks like she's having the time of her life in it. She's constantly funny and when she's sad, you feel sad, when she's happy, you feel happy. Brian from brns.com described her brilliantly. "She nearly steals the film with her wide-eyed out of control, bouncing ball character that simply is a joy to watch in action." The rest of the cast to a tremendous job too and Loletta Lee even has a small but charming role.

Tsui Hark uses every gag in the book but to great use. There's the mouse falls into the cloths gag, the one he used later on in Peking Opera Blues where a few people are in a room all hiding from each other and numerous other hilarious jokes. This film is really funny and always leaves a smile on your face.

The plot is very simple. It's 1937 Shanghai and the Japanese have invaded China. People are running out the streets and two of these people (Kenny Bee and Sylvia Chang) hide under a bridge while bombs are going off. They fall for each other and promise to meet after the war is over (Kenny goes to be a soldier). Fast forward ten years and Sylvia is a local dancer and as coincidence has it (lots of BIG coincidences in this film!) Kenny moves to the floor above from where Sylvia lives both of whom are unaware of who each other is. Sally Yeh comes to Shanghai with no money and nowhere to stay but meets up with Sylvia and stays at her house...and then falls for Kenny too!

It's a wild comedy ride throughout and I haven't enjoyed a film this much for ages, perhaps years. It is a classic film in my opinion and everyone should have a chance to see it. It is just such a shame that it is so widely unavailable, it really should get released onto DVD or at least VCD. I only wish the film could have been longer or there was another film like it because I doubt I'm going to see another magic film like this for a long time to come.

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 02/14/2001
Summary: Disappointing

Along with Tri-star, this would be my least-favourite Tsui Hark film. Not that I hate it or it's bad, but nor is it great. But first, the good news. And there is quite a bit of it.

Kenny Bee puts in a convincing and sympathetic performance, and especially the interaction with his uncle perfectly illustrates the both the warmth and the irritation involved in their relationship.

I can't recall a film where Sylvia Chang has looked lovelier. I happily confess that Sylv is not one of my fave actresses, but she looks good enough to eat here, and her performance nearly matches Kenny's.

Now for some bad news. The script looks like a poorly-cut and pasted jigsaw puzzle. And I don't think this problem can simply written off as a function of the changing lives of the characters. The progression of the tale is therefore jumbled. Tsui can usually get away with this, by pushing things along at a wacky pace and doing outrageous stuff. Possibly it doesn't work so well here because there's a lot less outrageous stuff to work with (compared, say, with the similar-but-a-bit-better Peking Opera Blues).

Sally Yeh's performance seems to encompass both the good and the bad of this film. She carries the bulk of the wackiness, giving a mostly mouth-open screaming and broad comic turn. She seems to have been on "speed". And the way she falls for Do-Re-Mi was completely unconvincing
Mostly, I didn't think the way she played it helped the film, though there were exceptions. For instance, her comic timing in the Calendar Queen sequence was spot-on, and she played the scenes to perfection. In particular, the moment where she readjusts her smile is a scream.

Of course, Sally is integral to the film - she sings the songs too, and the theme song of the same name appears on her greatest hits album.

I seriously believe that comparisons with Tri-star are valid. Both films are jumbled and messy (though SB is less so). Both have characters running around like headless chickens on speed. And both are tied up by a cliched romantic ending (SB uses one of the great Hollywood romantic set-pieces - highly predictable but very effective, and one of the film's best moments).

In summary, there is much to like and much to criticize about this flawed film. But I'd still give it a recommendation to watch, even if only lukewarm.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 01/30/2000
Summary: Pretty good.

I'll admit it: I'm a new-school brat. When I watch anything pre- "A Better Tomorrow," I generally expect it to look and sound cheesy. I should've expected better from Tsui Hark; this is a fairly lavish film. Content-wise, it comes up a little bit short; while this is more of a "story" movie than a "plot" movie, I felt like it lacked the over-the-top wacky climax I exected. Still, it's consistently watchable, and features one of the funnier "people hiding in a bedroom" scenes in HK movies. Less bang for the buck than Tsui's Peking Opera Blues, (which featured about as much humor, with more pathos and much more action) but certainly worth watching.

Reviewed by: pablo
Date: 12/09/1999

1937, Shanghai. Under a bridge during a air strike, two people in darkness vow to meet again when things are better. 1947. Wide eyed and bushy tailed Sally comes to Shanghai to make it big. She meets up with veteran club dancer Sylvia her upstairs neighbor Kenny. Classic Tsui Hark, with coincidences galore and the obligatory scene where everyone is hiding from everyone else in a crowded apartment. Nothing deep, but quite enjoyable.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This is a "funny" love story, although it also touches upon themore poignant side of life in Shanghai in the late 1940s. It all starts on one fateful night in 1937 when Shu and Kwok meet under the Soochow Bridge in Shanghai, which they used as a bomb shelter from the Japanese attack on the city. In the semi-darkness, though unable to see each other clearly, the two young people experience an immediate attraction for each other. They vow to meet again when the war is over, under the same bridge.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]