Issue #294        HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES       December 19th, 2005

Brothers from the Walled City
(1982; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Sing jaai chut loi je
Mandarin: Cheng zhai chu lai zhe
English: People from the Walled Ghetto


  RATING: 6/10


Schoolboys Xiao De and Da De are very fond of their father (Kwan Hoi-shan), who manages a Mahjong parlor in the Walled City and commands a great deal of respect among its regulars. The boys’ behavior patterns carry over into adulthood, with elder brother Da De (Phillip Ko Fei) being the coolheaded, responsible one and Xiao De (Chin Siu-ho) the young hothead constantly in trouble through his own impulsiveness. Xiao De’s latest act of recklessness has left his girlfriend (Liu Li-ling) pregnant and the girl’s father is the unscrupulous Officer Cheung (Johnny Wang Lung-wei), who allows triad-run clubs like the one managed by Da De to operate with few legal restrictions. When Cheung discovers what Xiao De has done, the preferential treatment is over. Cheung then allies himself with Yi Ching (Wong Ching), a rival mahjong club manager, who has already had several run-ins with Xiao De and would like to seem him dead.

Kwan Hoi-shan Chin Siu-ho

This violent Shaw Brothers thriller is not as excessive as some of the later films directed by Nam Nai-choi (EROTIC GHOST STORY, STORY OF RICKY), but it is certainly not for anyone with little tolerance for exploitation excess, copious melodrama, or low humor. The title leads one to expect a crime story set within The Walled City (a veritable no-man’s land of vice, drugs, and gambling that HK police could never effectively patrol), but after the first reel, we are back amidst the red light district most of these movies unfold in. The storyline follows a predictable tit-for-tat template, but Phillip Ko and Johnny Wang are given a rare opportunity to display their acting chops in roles that rely little on their physical abilities. There are also impressive technical components, including some adept handheld camerawork, and a rooftop confrontation in the second half is admirably intense. The film concludes in a manner that was likely designed to appease the censors, but also subverts audience expectations in reasonably satisfying fashion.

Phillip Ko Fei Johnny Wang Lung-wei


Absolutely no grumbling here (though the disc is apparently not formatted for progressive scan displays): the visuals look excellent, with particularly vibrant colors during the red-drenched nightclub scenes, and the mono audio is fine. The regular Celestial extras are included.

Liu Li-ling Wong Ching

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

NTSC – Region 3 Only

Intercontinental Video Ltd. #105586

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (1.85:1)

88 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)


- Ontario: R

Quebec: 18+

Contains brutal violence, crude content, coarse language, substance abuse, and brief nudity

10 A Masterpiece
9 Excellent
8 Highly Recommended
7 Very Good
6 Recommended
5 Marginal Recommendation
4 Not Recommended
3 Poor
2 Definitely Not Recommended
1 Dreadful