China Girl

From acclaimed director Abel Ferrera comes this modern day retelling of the doomed lover’s story.

Release Date: 25 September 1987 (USA)

Director: Abel Ferrara

Writer: Nicholas St. John

Stars: James Russo, Richard Panebianco, Sari Chang

Country: USA

Language: English

Right in the tradition of “Romeo and Juliet”, though this time, the China Girl’s story is relocated to downtownChinatown. Writer Nicholas St John provides some strong material for the stars James Russo, Richard Panebianco and Sari Chang to get their teeth into and the result is a film which keeps the viewer’s attention hooked.

Tony and Tye are two young people from opposite sides of the fence, he from the rapidly shrinking Italian community, she from the burgeoning Chinese population. Both families have connections to crime syndicates and so are at hate filled loggerheads. You can see how this is going to end and it isn’t going to be well. There isn’t much more to the tale as the tragically doomed lovers are torn apart by the intercine warfare happening between their families and it seems like the hate and violence will never come to an end.

Ferrera’s movie is direct and uncompromising in places, playing out the seedy conflict between the two sides with some often shocking visuals which underline the danger that the two innocent and pure young lovers face. Well, innocent and pure compared to their parents. Panebianco and Chang are both worth watching in what must have been some of their earliest roles and Chang particularly brings a subtle tenderness to Tye, however their inexperience does show through at some points and it is the supporting cast who really make the movie flow and hold together the narrative.

Ferrera’s direction, as is to be expected is fluid, imaginative and striking, with tremendous flair in the lighting and set design complementing the cinematographer’s work. As such it is a real treat for the eye and with such a strong script, the movie never fails to impress, even though there are some moments of extraordinary dodgy dialogue which do take the viewer out of the experience for a short time. It’s also notable for a wonderfully over the top appearance by David Caruso who is always good value in any movie so why not give it a go?

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