Shanghai Panic

Andrew Cheng's vid-shot drama "Shanghai Panic" offers a look at club kids doing drugs and each other in an urban milieu well off the tourist maps. Improvisational in feel -- though adapted from a novel by Mian Mian -- shoestring pic should spark interest among fests, with prospect of home-format release in foreign turfs to follow.

With:
With: Mian Mian, Yang Yuting, Li Zhinan, He Weiyan, Zhou Zhijie, Zhao Ke.

Latest in wave of surprisingly frank features from China, Andrew Cheng’s vid-shot drama “Shanghai Panic” offers a willfully loose yet diverting look at rudderless club kids doing drugs and each other in an urban milieu well off the official tourist maps. Improvisational in feel — though adapted from a novel by oft-banned underground writer Mian Mian — shoestring feature should spark interest among fest programmers, with prospect of fringe home-format release in foreign turfs to follow.

The underground author herself plays Kika, den mother to a crew of youths interested mostly in getting high and hitting the clubs. Handsome Bei (Li Zhinan) is an ex-ballet dancer who fears his recent ill health is due to AIDS — not that he or any of his pals are very well informed about that subject. He’s been stringing along occasional girlfriend and prostitute Fifi (Yang Yuting), but professes his real love is Jie (Zhao Ke), another male dancer less willing to abandon his heterosexual identity. Androgynous Casper (He Weiyan) seems unclear as to what she wants. Virtual one-man show for helmer turns rough edges to good advantage, holding attention even when narrative grows opaque or aimless.

Shanghai Panic

China

Production: A Western Dragon production. Produced, directed, written, edited by Andrew Cheng, based on the novel "We Are Panic" by Mian Mian.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Cheng; music, Zhao Ke. Reviewed at San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival,June 28, 2002. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Mian Mian, Yang Yuting, Li Zhinan, He Weiyan, Zhou Zhijie, Zhao Ke.

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