Shanghai Blues | Chicago Reader

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Tsui Hark (The Butterfly Murders) directed this broad, almost manically lively example of the popular cinema of Hong Kong—perhaps the last truly popular cinema (in the sense of appealing to a broad, loyal audience) left in the world. The film begins in 1937 in Shanghai, where a young musician has a brief romantic encounter with a shadowy woman as the Japanese bombard the city; it flashes forward ten years and turns into a chaotic sex farce, interrupted by slapstick fights and musical numbers, in which the hero must try to decide which of the women he's involved with (one's a cool cabaret singer, the other a Lucy-esque screwball) is the woman he fell in love with on the eve of the war. Hark's colors have the almost startling intensity of old Technicolor; combined with his stroboscopic cutting, they make the film seem to fizz and sparkle on the screen. With Sylvia Chang, Kenny Bee, and Sally Yeh (1984).

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