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Import Film Review


Once Upon A Time in Shanghai


Philip NG, Andy On ,Sammo Hung, Chen Kuan Tai

Directed By 

Wong Ching-Po

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

Re-making any of the Classic Shaw Brothers films is a task that I would not afford to many, The same would go for any of the classic Golden Harvest films from the 70's and 80's.

So when it was announced that Yuen Woo Ping would be choreographing a re-make of classic Shaw Film ''The Boxer from Shantung'' I was curious as to who would star..

Now when it was announced that Martial artist , Actor,Fight choreographer Phillip Ng would appear in the starring role I was curious to the decision..

Because in all honesty he was not someone you would think of for such a role, mainly because of his roles in films have been more supporting,co-starring or smaller roles..

But it's when you look at his back catalogue of roles that you realise why , with roles in films like ''Dragon Squad, New Police Story and Invisible Target to name a few it becomes apparent that this could be the vehicle to get his name in the big lights..

The director of this piece is Wong Ching Po , a director of few works ,but each of these works have been very intriguing films including ,,Jiang Hu, Mob Sister and ''Revenge - A Love Story''..

Giving the film it's unique look and feel Wong Ching Po along with fight coordinators Yuen Woo Ping and Yuen Cheung Yan create a very cool looking film.

Of course the film has other surprises in the form of Andy On who plays a young local triad who has come up through the ranks to take a larger share of the pot then deemed fair to some of the elder triad bosses who just happen to be played by three of Hong Kong's legendary action actors ,namely Chen Kuan Tai ( yes the star of Boxer from Shantung) , Yuen Cheung Yan and Fung Hark On.

And playing the leader and father figure of the local labourers is the legendary Sammo Hung as Master Tie. Master Tie is a man who looks after his flock and his love of his life ,his daughters.

Now Phillip Ng plays the character Chen Kuan Tai played in the original , Ma Yongzhen , part of a group of Chinese people bound for Shanghai ,where they hope to seek their fortune , getting jobs as labourers Ma finds that the Shanghai is a pit for all the triads and that trying to make a honest buck is tougher then it looks.

What's more the Japanese have interests in local businesses of ill repute, dealing drugs and taking a foothold.

Ma's hatred of ill gotten gain gets him noticed , he ends up in confrontation with Long Qi ( Andy On) and ends up becoming good friends with him due to the fact that Long Qi loves his honest ways and the fact that the two like to spar one another.

One strange thing about the film is the way that Shanghai is depicted as quite a desolate place at times ,with the streets void of life at times. The laborers and refugees lived in man made shacks in little more then a shanty town style of set up ,this area was full of people .

When the elders plan to get rid of Long Qi in cohorts with the Japanese they try and recruit Ma , this of course fails and the end result is a tragic one ,resulting in Ma's fury being unleashed in a bid to save his friend ..

Philip Ng delvers as Ma in the action scenes , his ability showing through ten fold. As per usual Andy On shows he really is one of the best on screen fighters around today. Andy never ceases to amaze in what ever role he lets loose in .

Even the legendary Sammo Hung as Master Tie gets to bust some cool moves ,as does Chen Kuan Tai and the gang..

In comparison to the film it's based on I would say this more a homage then a direct exact remake. To me it was more a cross between Fist of Legend and the Last Tycoon.. ..

Once Upon a Time in Shanghai is a entertaining film with some cool action, shot in a very noire setting, the way the colours are very muted with splashes of brighter colour gives the film a very distinct look and feel.

Also I think the running time is pretty average ,it's pretty much a film which starts with action to get you hooked ,gives a little story to set the scene then builds to a big climax and battle which did not deliver on all levels .

May be I would have liked to see more time allotted to the end scenes and maybe the brotherly bond between Ma and Long worked on more , with maybe more screen time in the fight department with both Long and Ma fighting for China's honour.

It's not to say that this a is a bad film ,far from it, it's very enjoyable with great action , but it does not come close to the original work or either of the other two films I mentioned. .

Score out of Ten = 7

Review Date : August 2014

Reviewed by Sertes Nake

See the review of the Original ''Boxer from Shantung '' on site here


Stills / Posters / Lobby-cards




Directed by Wong Ching-po
Produced by Wong Jing
Andrew Lau
Connie Wong
Written by Angela Wong
Starring Sammo Hung
Philip Ng
Andy On
Michelle Hu
Chen Kuan-tai
Mao Junjie
Edited by Wenders Li
Mega-Vision Pictures
See Movie Limited
Henan Film and Television Production
Henan Film Studio
Meiya Great Wall Media (Beijing)
Distributed by Mei Ah Entertainment
Release date(s)
  • 10 January 2014
Running time 95 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese


 Character cast


 Sammo Hung as Master Tie

Philip Ng as Ma Yongzhen

Andy On as Long Qi

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

Fung Hak On as Scruffy Chou


source : wikipedia