Portland Street Blues

Raymond Yip’s 1998 gangland melodrama approaches the pathos, intensity, and visual punch of John Woo’s Bullet in the Head, as “Sister Thirteen,” a macho but tenderhearted gang leader (Sandra Ng), battles for control of a seedy district in Hong Kong. The chronicle of her triumphant rise plays like a traditional Chinese martial-arts saga, driven by honor, revenge, and chaste love, but Ng delivers a fierce, multifaceted performance as the stoic Thirteen; part Madame Mao, part Mercedes McCambridge, and part Mother Teresa, she’s a force as elemental as James Cagney in White Heat. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, March 13, 6:00, and Sunday, March 14, 3:45, 312-443-3737.

–Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.