Shanghai Grand (1996)Directed by: Man Kit Poon
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Andy Lau
Tagline: "A sentimental gangster story"
A 1930's gangster film set in Shanghai with lots of baddies, the usual gangster stuff and a completely stupid bit with a killed python and femme fatale.
Leng Tik (Leslie Cheung) is one of the two main characters in the film who starts out as a nightsoil collector and rises through the ranks of the gang after saving the daughter of a gang leader. I liked the Rhett Butler (you know, Clark Gable's character from Gone with the Wind (1939)) style moustache that he sports throughout the later stages of the movie. Another standout scene with Leslie is when he is forced to play a game of Mah-jong where he loses a finger if his tile is less than the boss.
Man-Hui Keung (Andy Lau) is a Taiwanese soldier who escapes from a cargo ship after all his friends are trapped in a big cage. Tik finds him beneath a statue on the foreshore in Shanghai and they become best friends after he rescues his mother from a fire set by a gang boss.
One of the good things about this film was the 'chapters' devoted to Leslie's character, Ching Ching, and the final showdown, as they are very well handled.
Amongst the army of triad movies that have come out of Hong Kong, this one stands out due to the unique period setting and the style with which it is told. All the usual themes of this genre are explored with an emphasis on brotherhood and loyalty.
While I enjoyed the performances of the gang members, the woman playing the main love interest was a bit weak.
Even though there are better triad movies around, I would strongly recommend this movie if you like Leslie Cheung or period dramas.