China Girl (1987 film)

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China Girl
China girl poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAbel Ferrara
Produced byMichael Nozik
Written byNicholas St. John
Music byJoe Delia
CinematographyBojan Bazelli
Edited byAnthony Redman
Distributed byVestron Pictures
Release date
  • September 25, 1987 (1987-09-25)
Running time
89 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,262,091[1]

China Girl is a 1987 film directed by independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara, and written by his longtime partner Nicholas St. John.


China Girl is a contemporary take on the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. Set in 1980s Manhattan, the plot revolves around the intimate relationship developing between Tony, a teenage boy from Little Italy, and Tye, a teenage girl from Chinatown, while both of their older brothers become engrossed in a heated gang war against each other. It also bears some similarities to the 1957 musical West Side Story, which similarly is an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set among rival ethnic gangs in Manhattan, and also features a male protagonist named Tony.


The film was released theatrically on September 25, 1987 in 193 theaters and grossed $531,362 its opening weekend. the film grossed a domestic total of $1,262,091 and its widest release was to 193 theaters. After its theatrical run, the film was released on videocassette by Vestron Video. The film is available on region 2 DVD and as of October 31, 2005, The Weinstein Company or The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment has yet to announce any plans for a DVD release, it has never been released on region 1 and as of January 17, 2010, Lions Gate has yet to announce any plans for a DVD release.


Critical reception[edit]

The staff at Variety magazine said of the film, "China Girl is a masterfully directed, uncompromising drama and romance centering on gang rumbles (imaginary) between the neighboring Chinatown and Little Italy communities in New York City." and they especially praised the performances of Russell Wong and Joey Chin saying "Russell Wong (as handsome as a shirt ad model) and sidekick Joey Chin dominate their scenes as the young Chinese gang leaders."[2]

Time Out magazine wrote that the film is a, "superior exploitation picture is a tough, stylish but often painfully misjudged reworking of Romeo and Juliet, with rival teenage gangs battling it out, sparked by the inter racial love affair between an Italian (Panebianco) and a Chinese girl (Chang), Ferrara makes excellent use of the Chinatown and Little Italy locations, and delivers the choreographed violence with his usual muscular panache." and that "The major strength of the script is its accommodation of three generations: the elders and their aspiring sons are seen to conspire against the warring youngsters, putting money before family."[3]

Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader praised the film's photography and action scenes calling them "Bojan Bazelli's location photography is luminous and exciting, and the battle lines charted in Nicholas St. John's script are fairly complex."[4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1] Film review. Last accessed: March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ "China Girl". Time Out London. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  4. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "China Girl". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 25 March 2014.

External links[edit]