Tuesday, March 8, 2011 Shanghai Blues

I've only seen Shanghai Blues once, but it made a great impression. It was back when I was just discovering HK cinema, making regular trips into Chinatown to rent VHS tapes from an herbalist's shop. I had also stumbled across the Film Center of the Art Institute of Chicago's annual Hong Kong festival just in time for their Jackie Chan season. I can't describe how incredible it was to experience all this eye-popping, mind-blending cinema for the first time on the big screen - and then have the man himself turn up to shake hands and answer questions from the audience. Freaking bliss.

My memory is hazy, but I believe the following year was the Film Center's Tsui Hark season. I was eagerly devouring each offering and got turned on to such classics as Zu and Swordsman II. But it was a romantic comedy called Shanghai Blues that really showed me there was more to Hong Kong cinema than just crazy stunts and hopping vampires. Twenty years and countless films later, I don't recall much about the movie other than I really enjoyed it.

I never got a chance to revisit Shanghai Blues, as it has never received an English-friendly DVD release. But thanks to a heads-up on the Mobius Home Video forum and the generosity of some nameless web denizen, I finally have the opportunity to watch a decent copy of this film. It's an mp4 rip of the old laser disc and it is available via the link below:

Hark's other works get a lot of love in HK fandom, especially Peking Opera Blues, but I almost never see Shanghai Blues get a shout-out. I think that's down to the film's scarcity than it's actual merits, and this is borne out by recent discussion thread on the Mobius forum sparked by the movie's "web release". It's great to see that others enjoyed this film as much as I did and I can't wait to watch it again after all these years.

If you are a fan of Tsui Hark or 80's HK cinema, don't miss this chance. Grab your copy while you can.