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A modern day Romeo & Juliet story is told in New York when an Italian boy and a Chinese girl become lovers, causing a tragic conflict between ethnic gangs.
For more about China Girl and the China Girl Blu-ray release, see China Girl Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: James Russo, Richard Panebianco, Sari Chang
Director: Abel Ferrara
» See full cast & crew
China Girl Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 5, 2012
Abel Ferrara's "China Girl" (1987) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Metropolitan. The supplemental features on the disc include an original trailer, gallery of stills from the film, and text-format notes about the film. In English, with optional French subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Tony (Richard Panebianco, Born on the Fourth of July) spends most of his time helping his older brother Alby (James Russo, Beverly Hills Cop) run the family pizzeria in Little Italy. After work, he likes going to a local disco club where the neighborhood's best looking girls go to dance. Tye (Sari Chang, King of New York) stays in Chinatown because she is constantly reminded by her older brother Yung Gan (Russell Wong, Romeo Must Die) that she belongs there. Only on the weekends she occasionally goes out dancing with her girlfriends.
One night, Tony meets Tye in the disco club. They dance and almost kiss. The special moment is interrupted when Yung Gan's thug friends enter the club and confront Tony - because Italian boys are not supposed to play with Chinese girls. Tony runs away, but they go after him and corner him at an old loading zone. However, out of nowhere Alby's thug friends appear and a massive fight erupts. Eventually, the cops appear and the two gangs disappear into the night.
In the days that follow, the Italians vow to protect Little Italy while the Chinese vow to protect Chinatown. Both have all sorts of good reasons that are impossible to argue. Meanwhile, Tony and Tye arrange to meet again.
Word reaches the big bosses in Little Italy and Chinatown that the 'kids' have started fighting each other. Because having the cops snooping around isn't good for business, the head of the Italian mafia (Robert Miano, Donnie Brasco) warns Alby to calm down his friends, while the leader of the Chinese mafia (James Hong, Blade Runner) urges Yung Gan to talk to his friends and do the same. However, neither Alby nor Yung Gan are pleased that they are told what to do.
While Alby and Yung Gan are talking to their friends and trying to figure out a way to please the bosses but not look like losers, Tony and Tye meet again. They make love and even talk about the future. Then, one night all hell breaks loose.
This practically forgotten film by Abel Ferrara has everything big-budget contemporary American films don't - pure energy, great style, and the balls to play with a load of racial clichés. It is wild and raw but at the same time mesmerizingly beautiful.
China Girl essentially offers a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare's timeless Romeo and Juliet. There are a couple of interesting new twists that spice up the story a bit, but the basics are the same. What's new is the manner in which Ferrara's camera sees New York City and the people who live there – there is a certain '80s flavor in the 'look' that is neither too heavy nor too light, it is simply perfect, and impossible to resist.
Like all films directed by Ferrara, China Girl has a dark side, but here religion has little to do with it. Anger is what corrodes its beauty, though there are no preachy moralistic messages attached to it. It is a cynical and unapologetic romantic film for grown-ups who loved the '80s and the culture they promoted.
China Girl was scripted by Ferrara collaborator Nicholas St. John (King of New York, Dangerous Game), and lensed by cinematographer Bojan Bazelli (The Rapture, Boxing Helena).
China Girl Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Abel Ferrara's China Girl arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Metropolitan.
The high-definition transfer was obviously struck from a dated source, but its basics are actually quite strong. The overwhelming majority of the close-ups, for example, are well detailed and boasting pleasing depth. During the panoramic shots with the lush neon lights clarity is also good. More importantly, there are no traces of overzealous sharpening corrections. There are a few traces of light sharpening popping up here and there, but it is never overly distracting (I specifically looked for a good example - see screencapture #14). Color reproduction is also unproblematic. There are no serious banding and aliasing issues either. Lastly, there are no large damage marks, cuts, debris, or stains plaguing the high-definition transfer. All in all, though not spectacular, the presentation certainly represents a good upgrade over the only R2 DVD release of the film that I have seen. (Notre: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
China Girl Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS 2.0 and French DTS 2.0. For the record, Metropolitan have provided optional French subtitles for the main feature.
A lossless audio track would have been preferable, but the English DTS 2.0 track is far from disappointing. The music during the long prologue where Tony meets Tye in the disco club and the two dance, for instance, sounds very good. The gunshots are also very crisp and clear. The dialog is stable, clear and easy to follow. Additionally, there are no problematic dynamic fluctuations or high-frequency distortions to report in this review. Once again, even though a lossless track would have been preferable, the DTS 2.0 track serves the film very well.
China Girl Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
China Girl Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
China Girl is an incredibly beautiful film directed by legendary maverick Abel Ferrara. Truly, no other director could see and film New York City quite like Mr. Ferrara does. It is such a shame that he is so underappreciated in America. The French Blu-ray release herein reviewed, courtesy of Metropolitan, could have been slightly more convincing, but I personally think that it is very much worth picking up. Let's just hope that eventually we will also see Blu-ray releases of New Rose Hotel and Mary somewhere around the world. RECOMMENDED.
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