Posts Tagged ‘China’

City Of Life And Death (2010)

The movie takes place in 1937, during the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Imperial Japanese Army invades the then-capital of the Republic of China, Nanjing. What followed was known as the Nanking Massacre, a period of several weeks wherein massive numbers of Chinese prisoners of war and civilians were killed.

A very powerful, harrowing and bleak movie depicting the atrocities that took place in Nanjing during the Japanese occupation of the city during WW2. It’s a documentary-like testimony to the cruelties of war. It holds nothing back. Superbly filmed in black and white, the camera seems to capturing events as they happen and the images that you witness in this movie will live with you long after the end credits has finished. It’s heartbreaking and upsetting. One such scene in particular is really gutwrenching: it’s where captured Chinese soldiers are led to a place where they will be executed, and just before getting mown down by machine guns the soldiers shout “Long live China” and “China will not die”. The movie will make you think long and hard how human beings can do such terrible to each other. As this is a Chinese production, you’re probably wondering if this just national propoganda as I’m fully aware that the Chinese people have never really forgiven the nation of Japan for what they did to them during the war. The wounds run deep and the hate for the Japanese especially among the elder population is very real. This isn’t a movie that takes sides at all. The story is told through the eyes and feelings of a few characters (Japanese and Chinese) thus giving us a point of view from the two sides. It was a good idea by the director to have a sympathetic Japanese soldier Kadokawa so that the viewer doesn’t just hate the lot of them. There is also no real character development to speak of, since most of these characters are just trying to stay sane or alive. If ever there was a movie to show us that war is hell then this is it thanks to writer-director Chuan Lu and cinematographer Yu Cao. Its as much anti-war as you can get. There is great horror shown from the normal horrors of warfare, to numerous and frequent graphic rapes, nastiness involving children and pretty much every kind of cruelty you can think of.

City Of Life Or Death is a masterpiece and a remarkable movie experience that everybody should see, telling us about a dark chapter in world history which will never be forgotten. It’s a difficult movie to watch, that there is no doubt but see this and be prepared to be moved. Outstanding.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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Red Cliff (2008)

Red Cliff is an epic historical drama based on a legendary 208 A.D battle that heralded the end of the Han Dynasty. Power hungry Prime Minister-turned-General Cao Cao is seeking permission from the Han Dynasty Emperor to organize a southward-bound mission designed to crush two troublesome warlords that stand in his way, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. As the expedition gets under way, Cao Cao’s troops rain destruction on Liu Bei’s army, forcing the latter to retreat. Liu Bei’s military strategist Zhuge Liang knows that their only hope for survival is to form an alliance with rival warlord Sun Quan, and reaches out to Sun Quan’s trusted advisor, war hero Zhou Yu. The newly formed alliance make their last stand, where Cao Cao and his massive forces advance, seeking to crush all resistance in their path.

Outstanding war movie which is unlike most you may have watched in this genre. This is the largest movie ever made in China which had a budget of $80 million dollars. It went over budget and over schedule. Red Cliff was not scripted to just excite you with a war-mongering gorefest, it mesmerises you with military strategy too. The story develops to much more than just a battle of two dynasties, it engrosses you and you will enjoy it if you already love the genre. A compelling historical story by director John Woo with the highlight being the battle sequences which are absolutely amazing. He understands what it takes to make an epic movie and in Red Cliff he clicks all the right buttons. If you thought Hollywood did impressive battle scenes then you’ve aint seen nothing yet. They’re so intense with arrows, spears and swords flying here, there and everywhere. There’s tons of blood but it’s not shown just for gore’s sake.

The acting is flawless by all the cast led by Takeshi Kaneshiro, the cinematography is out of this world, the soundtrack is equisite, the costumes are beautiful to look at and the movie as a whole is just so damn good. This movie serves as a per­fect introduc­tion to all the char­ac­ters and the con­flict of the story. It sets every­one to be ready for the real Battle of Red Cliff in the sequel. As a movie that bal­ances both action and char­ac­ter devel­op­ment, Red Cliff is def­i­nitely one of the best Asian war movie of all times. I didn’t want this movie to end – that’s how much I enjoyed it. Red Cliff Part 2 will be reviewed soon.

Sadako’s Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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Aftershock (2010)

This is the story of the devastating Tangshan earthquake in 1976 which killed 240,000 people and how it rips apart a family of four. A mother of two children loses her husband in the quake and has to make a decision no parent should ever go through – which one of her children should survive as both are trapped under a slab of concrete. One has to be sacrificed say the rescue workers. She chooses her son unaware that her daughter survives. She’s adopted by a couple and given a new identity. The story follows the lives of the siblings over a period of 30 years until fate brings both of them together once more after another quake.

This isn’t your typical disaster movie. It’s more about people trying to move on with their lives. The director displays a careful attention to the characters and their relationships, and creates people that the viewer can not only identify, but also empathise with in their joys and sorrows, trials and tribulations, hopes and anxieties. When the siblings are finally reunited in a tearful reunion, only the hardest of hearts will not be moved. All of the performances from the cast are top notch. There are all kinds of wonderful and heartbreaking scenarios touching on the nature and loyalties of family.

Overall, Aftershock is a grand epic Chinese drama that will tug at your heartstrings and is a must see.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Warlords (2007)

This is a period epic in every sense of the word. It covers a lot of ground depicting war and it’s consequences. It tells the story of three “brothers” played brilliantly by Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro who make a pact of brotherhood to one another that consists of killing anyone who harms one of the brothers and killing any brother who harms another brother as they lead an army through war after war taking over city after city. The cinematography is outstanding, the budget is huge, the directing brilliant and the war scenes brutal as can be. The battle scenes didn’t pull any punches either. Blood flies across the screen as limbs roll on the ground. It’s truly fantastic. They are the highlight of the film as the first half seems to not pull away from the battlefield. The film is also extremely colorful. Every scene is stunningly vibrant. There are so many memorable scenes from the film and half of that is due to how they were shot. The Warlords is one of the best Chinese war epics I’ve ever seen.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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The Super Inframan (1975)

The Demon Princess Elzebub plots to conquer the Earth. She destroys a few major cities in Hong Kong to prove her power to a terror-stricken humanity. Returning to her lair in Inner-Earth, she awakens her army of Skeleton Ghosts and her various Ice Monsters to wreak havoc. But there is hope . . .

The high-tech Science Headquarters, run by Professor Liu Ying De. In view of the current crisis, he has at long last completed and is prepared to use the BDX Project: In the HQ’s secret laboratory, he transforms Lei Ma, a high-ranking SH officer, into the bionic kung fu superhero, the Inframan! Able to perform impossible feats, as well as being equipped with death-dealing weapons, the solar-powered red & silver armored Inframan is mankind’s only hope against Elzebub and her army of devils.

Thought this was quite a fun movie to watch. I didn’t even know that the Chinese had even attempted to try and copy the Japanese formula. It might not be as good as the their tokusatsu series of the time but it was a fine effort.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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Assembly (2007)

One of the best war movies I’ve ever witnessed with some outstanding battle scenes. The movie is a tale of 2 halves spanning 10 years. The first half covers the Chinese Civil and Korean war whilst the 2nd half finds our main character Captain Gu Zidi now half blind after the end of the Korean war trying to find the bodies of his fallen comrades that died 8 years previously and gain recognition that they died as heroes for their country.

This Chinese movie is an incredible blockbuster. I found it to be both moving and touching. Everything about this production is fantastic such as the realistic battle scenes which are reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan and Brotherhood. Zhang Hanyu gives such an amazing performance as Gu Zidi. I highly recommend it.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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This fascinating documentary movie is about a class at Evergreen Primary School, Wahun, China where an election for class monitor is being held. Three children are chosen by the teacher as candidates and they have a few days to campaign and convince their classmates to vote for them. The little candidates are seen at school and at home, where their parents do their best to make sure their child will win the election.

Democracy is alive and well in China….well in a primary school that is. Just like politics in real life the candidates use dirty tactics to outdo one another with one fat loudmouth bullying for votes which backfires! Even the parents get heavily involved in the election. I was rooting for the little girl as she was the underdog. The result of the election will hardly surprise you when one of them pulls a swerve just before voting. I found this to be a fascinating documentary as an insight into another culture.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Stolen Life (2005)

A very tragic tale of a young intelligent, innocent and naive young girl Yan’ni who wastes her life away after falling for the charms of a delivery driver. She believes his lies, gets pregnant, drops out of college to live in the squalor basement flat he has with the once bright future she could have had now in ruins. The child once born is put up for adoption – making the same mistake her own mother did.

Xun Zhou is brilliant as Yan’ni who finds out until it’s too late what a dastardly man her boyfriend really is. Her life and how its spirals downwards will really shock you. It’s also bound to make you angry based on her stupid decisions. This fascinating but depressing movie also finishes on a downbeat ending. There’s a moral to be had from watching this extrordinary and powerful story. Highly recommended.

I can’t find a trailer unfortunately.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 out of 5

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Set in 1950’s China, the story follows 4 year old Qiang as he starts kindergarten school and his struggle to fit in. He starts his own rebellion against his teachers there. His charisma slowly earns him friends despite his rebellious behavior. The little red flowers in the title is what the kids in the school get for good behavior – something Qiang struggles to achieve due to his behavior.

It’s a great movie to watch and the kids are cute, endearing and adorable. The interaction between the kids is great and feels very authentic. Might be a tad slow for some but I never found the movie to be boring. Shame about the rather abrupt ending.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 out of 5

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