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Peking Opera Blues Staff Pick

When: Thu., Feb. 13, 7 p.m. 2020
Price: $5-$7
Hark Tsui's martial arts comedy Peking Opera Blues was the first of his films to hit the American arthouse circuit back in the 1980s, but it's not an easy film for a Westerner to follow (unless you're a keen historian of the Chinese Revolution). Still, there's a great deal of visual appeal and action to tide you over. Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh and Cherie Chung are three strangers thrown together by the rising chaos of 1920s China. Sun Yat-Sen is waging war against the empire in hopes of establishing a new republic, and various warlords are trying to grab as much power as they can. Brigitte Lin plays the cross-dressing Tsao Wan, whose father is a general. Sally Yeh is aspiring opera star Pat Neil, whose ambition is thwarted by the long-standing tradition of men playing women's roles on stage, while Cherie Chung is a petty thief. Together they run from the palace to Beijing Theater, trying to do what they think is best. There's much footage of the flamboyant Chinese Opera, as well as rooftop fights, narrow escapes and some slapstick comedy. It's a visual feast. Peking Opera Blues is shown by the Webster Film Series at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 13, at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www.webster.edu/film-series). Tickets are $5 to $7.
— Paul Friswold
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