From director Wong Ching-po and Well Go USA Entertainment comes the remarkable story when it’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI.
The film tells the story of Yongzhen (Philip Ng), a young man who leaves his village for Shanghai looking for work. Learning how the town works and what it takes to survive, Yongzhen learns of Long Qi (Andy On), feared by many as he leads his own gang.
Long Qi’s intention is to control the four other gangs by taking over while still allowing them some part of the territory. Qi and Ma’s paths would cross and the gauntlet would be thrown down, one not knowing the strength and power of each one’s martial arts skill.
Qi knows he needs someone like Ma on his side and offers him a position. Ma, however, has no interest in becoming a criminal but instead asks for honest work. Believing he can finally move on, Ma must deal with Master Tie (Sammo Hung) who has a grudge against Qi.
What would happen next puts Ma on a path that he had hoped when coming to Shanghai, he would never have to go down.
FINAL WORD: Ng as Yongzhen is a young man who knows his own power and, in a way, is afraid of it. Arriving in Shanghai during a turbulent time Ng gives his character a mixture of strength and character that make him instantly likeable. His martial arts skills are pretty intense, quick and smartly done.
On as Long Qi is a man who wants everything – and wants it now! Trying to go against the other families, he also goes against traditions that put him in the line of fire. On is amazing with his martial arts skills along with the brooding bad guy looks that give this character the force it needed.
Other cast include: Michelle Hu as Tie Ju, Chen Kuan-tai as Baldy Bai, Mao Junjie as Sheng Xiangjun, Jiang Luxia as Tie Mei, Yuen Cheung-yan as Laughing Buddha and Fung Hak On as Scruffy Chow.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. The story if one of opposing sides of a man who is trying to stay on the good side of life and another man who wants everything and has no problem trying to take it.
The cinematography is very well done and the fight sequences are quite cool. This is the reason Martial Arts films continue to get better and better. The U.S. has really come to appreciate what has come out of Asian filmmaking in recent years. The storylines have become solid with actors like Ng emerging to become favorites.
Director Wong Ching-Po work also includes Mob Sisters (2005), Revenge: A Love Story (2010) and if you’ve seen that then you are already a fan of this director and Let’s Go (2011). Another of my favorites is Triad Underworld so get out your pen and write down all the films you need to catch up on!
The Bluray includes a Making of Once Upon a Time in Shanghai along with its 96 minute running time. The film is in Mandarin with English subtitles.
In the end – he must use the skills he has to survive!