Tuesday, August 18, 2015
CHINA GIRL (1987) - Abel Ferrara
Abel does gutter Shakespeare in this interracial Romeo & Juliet update set on the border of Chinatown and Little Italy. A perfect location for him, but the Bard is maybe not the best fit for the Bad Boy of Indie Film. The movie starts out promisingly enough: An ominous title sequence with the local Italian residents on Mulberry Street stewing as they watch another new Chinese restaurant hoist a sign on their block. It seems like we're in store for a tense NYC racial potboiler, something along the lines of Do the Right Thing with a touch of The Warriors thrown in. But then the characters start speaking, and we quickly realize we're light years from the Globe Theatre. All the Chinese characters talk to each other in bits of Cantonese before switching (arbitrarily) to full-on English. After a while, David Caruso comes bopping along to deliver a handful of epithets, and, needless to say, the prerequisite turf war ensues.
The fight scenes are PG movie bland, though this is an R rated film. The dance scenes are harder to watch. Everyone's so off-beat it's obvious they weren't dancing to music that ended up on the soundtrack. It doesn't help that the two young leads are both limper than wet pasta/rice noodles. They exude very little "heat," doomed romance or not.